Is Twitter The New Yahoo?
Reading the book written by Nicholas Carlson about Marissa Mayer’s management of Yahoo! has led me to this conclusion.
I found several striking similarities between Yahoo’s journey described by Carlson and that of Twitter.
Judge for yourself:
- Yahoo! and Twitter were created by their founders more to solve one of their daily problems than to meet a market need. David Filo and Jerry Yang designed a directory of all the sites they liked on the web. Jack Dorsey and Noah Glass created a means to digitally share their status and remotely connect with their friends.
- The founders had no managerial experience, which poorly influenced the culture they instilled in their respective startups.
- Both have enjoyed phenomenal success: In 2006, Yahoo! was the most popular website in the world and Twitter emerged in the early 2010s as the news agency of the 21st century.
- Yahoo! and Twitter have not managed their success well. In particular, they have been unable to define their purpose. They have articulated a series of successive strategic visions and developed associated functionalities (up to 400 at Yahoo!) without any overarching logic.
- They went through a considerable number of CEOs, which didn’t help filling their strategic vacuum.
- The tenure of two of the founders (Jerry Yang and Jack Dorsey) as CEO of their respective companies produced the same catastrophic results from both a strategic and operational standpoint.
- They still suffer today from managerial deficiency, a consequence of the various events mentioned above.
- Their operational and financial performance is far below market expectations.
Incidentally, Twitter’s journey seems to be an accelerated version of Yahoo’s. Its successes and challenges are occurring more rapidly than for its predecessor.
The train of thought developed in this post sheds light on the interesting scenario recently laid out by Ross Levinsohn, one of Yahoo’s former CEOs, that Twitter should acquire the company now run by Marissa Mayer with the success we know.