One should not indulge too often nor too deeply in “I told you so” moments. But as news that Verizon has acquired Yahoo broke, I couldn’t help but think back to a post our team wrote in March 2013, a few weeks after Marissa Mayer began her tenure as Yahoo CEO.
One of the early moves she made was to ban all remote and home working and require everyone to be physically present in the office. Our post questioned the reasons behind this move, and suggested that it gave some clues about a dysfunctional culture and lack of understanding of how to manage creative talent. We also linked to one of our ex-colleagues, Mike Stopforth, who had some insider knowledge of Yahoo and suggested that they did not have the necessary social business tools needed for successful staff engagement in the digital era.
We ended our post in 2013 by indicating that we believed strongly enough that Mayer’s blanket ban on remote working was a sign of something much bigger that was wrong at Yahoo, and that it wouldn’t work out well for them. And so it has turned out.
Now, I don’t think that the issues at Yahoo can be reduced to where their staffers work. And I am sure that the last four years have been really tough for Marissa Mayer and her team in countless ways. Fast Company published an interesting analysis today of Yahoo’s ability to analyse acquisitions and then incorporate them successfully – talent management issues too.
Our team won’t claim to have called the demise of Yahoo in March 2013, and we haven’t spent much time tracking them since then. But we do believe – deeply – that culture trumps strategy every time. The way a company treats its people, its ability to get the most out of them, and the culture it creates to do this, are all significant indicators of its future success. And in the case of Yahoo, it seems that the writing was on the wall. And we read it right.