Yahoo! has just announced the largest clue to the future of the company – the new CEO has decided that they are going to stop letting employees telecommute to work. Now, to people on the outside of the tech industry, this may seem like a minor change. Others who ‘always thought it was a bad idea’ may feel vindicated by this move from a major corporation. Yet others may think this is a move which is an attack on the concept of telecommuting overall. It is exactly none of those things.
The reason the new CEO, Marissa Mayer, has done this is because they are getting ready to do major staff cuts.
Yahoo! has never reached the level of success that Google did (the company Mayer worked at her entire adult life), and has nowhere near the profit margins or streamlined expenses and small salaries of Walmart (of whom Mayer is a sitting board member). It has, however, one thing of great potential value. A very technically savvy new CEO, and a crew brimming with technology genius.
At this point, there are either two ways I think this will go. Mayer is either there to sell off valuable parts of the company or she’s there to change the path of it drastically. I think she’s there to do a combination of both.
I think Mayer will be dumping anything that is dead weight, immediately. Which is why the non-telecommute rule is such a big clue. She wants to see who has the drive to keep working for Yahoo! regardless of the challenges. So she takes away something they like very much, just to see which are willing to keep pushing regardless. I have no doubt she will take some of the ‘on-site fun’ culture that exists at Google and re-create it at Yahoo! (and the new on-site daycare is a clue to that as well). I think she wants to create the ‘clique’ atmosphere that Google has in spades, and utilize it to re-invigorate staff who want to see Yahoo! do well.
I think she’s planning to cut a lot of people and put in new, fresh faces filled with tons of new mobile talent. However, I think she has a definite corporate-loving side to her which is going to want to create some traditional structure.
Whether she breaks up the company, or rebuilds it as a Google’esque cousin, I think this is the end of Yahoo! as we know it… and that may not be a bad thing.