Yahoo: It’s Poaching Season!
Chris is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is highly acclaimed as a company that treats its companies with posh and luxury. Innovation lines the office buildings as workers are exposed to hangout areas, table tennis and pool tables, and even free meals in the cafeterias.
Google also made headlines by carefully following Sergey Brin’s and Larry Page’s early years strategies of approving all hires. Pair this knowledge of employees with employee-CEO meetings every Friday, and you get a culture that is tight, innovative, and next-generation. This work atmosphere allows Google to create a vast array of new, brilliant products – everything from Google Maps to Google Patents (if you don’t know what this is it is worth checking out).
If new CEO Marissa Mayer has her way, Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) will boast many of these same cultural traits. Oh – it looks like she is having her way.
Stacking the Cards
Dr. William Hinton, professor of Business Management at Grove City College, is known for teaching the concept: “Get the right people on the bus, and get the wrong people off of the bus.” Mayer is following this philosophy. And apparently there’s no time to waste.
Mollie Spillman can tell you that first hand. Spillman was Yahoo’s Chief Marketing Officer. At least she was when she left for vacation. Part way through – 10 minutes before the big announcement – she learned that Mayer replaced her with Kathy Savitt, a former American Eagle and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) executive and founder of Lockerz, a company similar to Instagram.
Savitt is known for her expertise in curation and gamification. Curation allows users to assemble and organize items in one place (like photos). Gamification lets users win items like badges or upgrades, and it makes for a more “sticky” product.
So Yahoo has already poached one executive. Who is next? Personally, I believe that Yahoo would do well to traipse through these four hunting grounds.
Where to Hunt
Mayer came from Google, so it makes sense to start there. Google is best known for providing the ideal user experience. Users love the simple, elegant solutions that Google provides to what seems like all of their problems. The user interface is easy to navigate, and its feature innovations often turn into helpful products.
Another great option is Amazon, Savitt’s old stomping grounds. Amazon is adept at making improvements to its own business – think Amazon Web Services and Amazon Lockers (which I expect they will one day commercialize) – and then turning those innovations into high-volume, scalable products.
Right now Yahoo is in a product drought (what was its last product? The Axis browser?), and an Amazon mind could help Yahoo bring innovation back to the tech company. Furthermore, Amazon always seems to be innovating on others’ turf – and that is a trait that Yahoo needs to succeed.
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) comes next. This tech company is adept at pleasing both users and advertisers as it pushes its way toward the top of the technology space. I have worked with Facebook ads, and they are intuitive and easy to operate. What’s more, Facebook’s target market is every business on the planet, and Facebook does an excellent job of catering to both the small pizza shop and the public consumer products company.
Yahoo would do quite well to poach a Facebook executive that could bring this type of intuitive user experience knowledge to the table. After all, Yahoo is not pleasing its search engine users, which means it is harder to please its advertisers. A User Experience executive from Facebook could fix this, bolstering Yahoo’s search traffic and its advertising revenues.
Last comes Skype, which is the master of the distribution channel. If a company can’t distribute its product – get the product in front of people – then the product can’t be used or purchased. Have you ever seen a phone number on a website or in an e-mail? Most of the time if you click that number it will make a Skype call. We may never know how Skype got its product across the entire internet, but we do know that Yahoo desperately needs that same kind of distribution. Skype distribution executives – maybe Yahoo could give you a pay raise?
In all, Mayer is following up on her word to scout out Silicon Valley talent, and she moves very fast. The companies mentioned above should be careful that their best and brightest do not get lured away, and Yahoo must make certain that it does lure them away. After all Mayer’s – and Yahoo’s – futures depend on it.
ChrisMarasco has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Facebook, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Amazon.com, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo!. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.