Will “The Peanut Butter Manifesto” Impact Yahoo’s Recent Social Media Acquisitions?

November 19, 2006 by Lisa Oshima | Enterprise, Social Media

On the heels of Friday’s blog in which I mentioned Yahoo‘s purchase of Bix.com, this weekend The Wall Street Journal reported a leaked memo from Brad Garlinghouse, a Senior Vice-President at Yahoo.  In the memo, which the WSJ calls the “Peanut Butter Manifesto,” Garlinghouse reportedly wrote:

I’ve heard our strategy described as spreading peanut butter across the myriad opportunities that continue to evolve in the online world…The result: a thin layer of investment spread across everything we do and thus we focus on nothing in particular.

Garlinghouse laments that Yahoo’s senior leadership lacks “a focused, cohesive vision” and that Yahoo’s operations are separated “into silos that far too frequently don’t talk to each other”.  He expresses concern over a “massive redundancy that exists throughout the organisation” and a business “that has become overly bureaucratic”.

In a summary of the “Peanut Butter Manifesto”, FT.com reported:

Mr Garlinghouse’s memo, which was directed at senior management at Yahoo, goes on to propose three main steps to reverse Yahoo’s slide. Calling for a clearer vision, he argues that Yahoo should quit non-core businesses and eliminate many of its overlapping products.

He also calls for a greater level of accountability, putting Yahoo’s main services under the control of a new group of more powerful general managers.

“Heads must roll,” Mr Garlinghouse concludes, with the sacking of senior executives who have failed to stop the rot and a 15 to 20 per cent cut in the company’s overall headcount. “The direction needs to come decisively from the top.”

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, the internal reaction to this memo does to Yahoo’s social media plans.  Besides Bix.com, Yahoo recently purchased two other social media companies: Kenet Works and MyBlogLog.

  • Kenet Works, based in Sweden, plans to “take the fixed and mobile Internet from static web pages and post-and-reply communities, to full real-time services” available to users on their mobile phones.
  • MyBlogLog is a social networking community for weblog visitors.  The idea of MyBlogLog is that it ties everyone who reads a web site or blog together, allowing readers of blogs to learn about and engage with one another, so that the readers of your blog can become friends with each other – not just the person writing the blog.

If Garlinghouse’s recommendations are acted upon and Yahoo undergoes a massive re-org and leadership change, it will probably be a while before the dust settles and a cohesive, corporate social media strategy emerges.

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