Another new year, another Yahoo turnaround attempt. But this one may be the toughest of all to pull off.
Today Yahoo announced plans alongside its fourth-quarter earnings report to proceed on a three-track strategic plan in response to shareholder demands. First, the company will cut 15 percent of the workforce–I mean, “changes in the employee footprint,” as Yahoo so eloquently put it–as it exits or cuts back on everything from games and TV initiatives to once-promising services such as Flickr and digital magazines.
Second, it will look into spinning off the core business plus its stake in Yahoo Japan, keeping only its $30 billion stake in Alibaba. (Though a company called Yahoo that is comprised only of a bunch of shares in a Chinese company still sounds odd.)
And third, it’s open to fielding offers to buy Yahoo outright. (Hello, Verizon. Or is it AT&T? Or News Corp.?)
Here’s the central problem: human nature. If you work at Yahoo and you know the company is getting shopped around to unknown buyers, how hard are you going to work on a plan that, in all likelihood, won’t make a bit of difference to a new owner who will, in all likelihood, slash and burn half of what you just did? …