Laying it on thick for 'Peanut Butter Manifesto'

The Wall Street Journal created some weekend buzz by publishing a ballsy internal memo written by Yahoo Senior Vice President Brad Garlinghouse and leaked to the paper. In the "Peanut Butter Manifesto," published Saturday alongside a related story (subscription required), Garlinghouse says the Internet giant is spread way too thin and calls for a major management overhaul and a 15 to 20 percent headcount reduction.

yahooblue

"We want to do everything and be everything--to everyone. We've known this for years, talk about it incessantly, but do nothing to fundamentally address it. We are scared to be left out..." the memo reads. "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. I hate peanut butter."

Some bloggers are praising Garlinghouse for what they see as a refreshingly blunt and accurate assessment of not just Yahoo, but so many companies trying to do it all at the risk of losing a cohesive vision. Others furthered the nutty analogy.

Blog community response:

"If we must use a peanut butter analogy, I'd say the first choice for Yahoo! is whether to choose smooth or chunky. One could argue that the company currently pursues the 'smooth' peanut butter strategy where no single Yahoo! product or services defines the company, as search defines Google or operating systems and productivity apps define Microsoft...Instead may be a 'chunky peanut butter' strategy may be called for, where the company seeks to define a handful of its services as its hard-core mission, while CONTINUING to provide the other services, as long as they contribute directly or indirectly to enhancing the core services"
--michael parekh on IT

"But actions speak louder than words. Garlinghouse laments in his manifesto that Yahoo has too many competing products, both internally and as a result of acquisitions. DidnÂ’t Yahoo introduce a new contest site, Yahoo Talent Show7, less than a month ago? And now the company buys Bix. It's going to take more than leaking a memo to turn things around.""
--Liz Gannes on GigaOM

"Perhaps Yahoo ditches its fixation with Hollywood and original content. The Journal reports that the higher ups at Yahoo are heeding GarlinghouseÂ’s call. And they should since he bleeds purple and yellow. This memo highlights what David Berlind noted may be an age of transparency. Companies would be damn lucky to have executives like Garlinghouse around."
--Larry Dignan on ZDNet's Between the Lines

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About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.

 

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