Marissa Mayer is making bold moves to re-invigorate the culture at Yahoo! – free meals and new iPhones for all employees to start.
But culture begins and ends with people, and Yahoo! used to be known for its upbeat, people-centric culture. Thus it makes perfect sense that she would want to bring back some incredibly accomplished alumni from Yahoo!’s glory days.
To wit, there has been much speculation that Mayer is trying to hire ex-Yahoo! and Twitter VP, Katie Stanton (who is also a former White House staffer and an alumna of prestigious Rhodes College in Memphis, TN). No doubt Stanton would be a great addition, but she is only one of many Yahoo! alumni who have gone on to help lead other top web companies.
Here are five others who should be at the top of Marissa’s list:
1. Greg Coleman, Criteo CEO
Greg Coleman ran North American Operations during the Terry Semel years and has gone on to a gravy train of gravy trains, including his current gig at Criteo.
It is unclear whether Greg would take a role at Yahoo!, though rumor has it that Mayer may buy Criteo. Knowing Greg, his contract probably contains a equity-accelerating provision whereby all his stock vests immediately if Criteo is bought by any company that “generally or specifically engages in business of most or any kind.”
Of course there is the question of fit with Mayer’s vision for Yahoo!. Coleman is a back-slapper and a practical joker. He has been known to start an interview or sales meeting with the classic “pull my finger” trick. He also curses like a goddamn sailor.
But Coleman is a driven executive who knows how to work with the product folk. Though he has spent most of his career as a media guy, Greg has been drinking the digital Kool-Aid since he joined Yahoo! in 2001. So, while he was a great fit for the media-centric strategy of Terry Semel, he’d still be a good fit for the product-centric reign of Ms. Mayer.
After all, he might not be an engineer, but he sure as hell dresses like one.
2. Mike Murphy, Former Facebook Head of Sales / Rich Guy
If there is truth behind the speculation that current Yahoo! Ad Sales chief Michael Barrett is on his way out, Mayer will need someone with Madison Avenue connections and social media chops. Former Facebook Head of Global Sales Mike Murphy’s got both.
Know what else Murph’s got? A friggin’ boatload of money from Facebook.
A celebrity on the conference circuit, Mike Murphy knows pretty much everyone in digital advertising and five years at Facebook means he’s not just another banner ad sales guy. Sure, he’s no technologist and once stated publicly that he thought websites were built on WordPerfect. But he can talk digital marketing at a high level, and Mayer in this role needs someone who will offset her seeming indifference for Yahoo!’s actual customers.
As for fit with Mayer, Murph is no stranger to working for powerful women. Before Facebook, Murph was Yahoo!’s West Coast sales lead. In that role, he reported to the legendary Wenda Harris Millard, who he said was “super-effective,” but also “volatile as a meth lab.”
Murph’s the right guy to fill this critical job. Besides, it’s not like he’s got anything better to do.
3. Tim Sanders, Author and Speaker
Tim found his way to Yahoo! through the acquisition of Broadcast.com where (according to LinkedIn) his job title was “lovecat.” He carried on in much the same vein as Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo! where his responsibilities included…let’s see…ummm….hang on…give me a minute….I’m sure I’ll think of at least one….
Tim’s talks are like nothing you’ve ever seen. They blend Tim’s intellect and insightful business parable into a style that Greg Coleman once described as “Tony Robbins Meets Eraserhead.”
Coleman went on to add, “Fuck! That shit was odd!”
4.Brad Garlinghouse, CEO at YouSendIt
In 2006, as an upper-middle manager at Yahoo!, Garlinghouse gained wide recognition as the author of “The Peanut Butter Manifesto” (The PBM), an accurate but professionally-risky critique of Yahoo!’s business operations.
It is rumored that Garlinghouse wrote the The PBM just so he could make a name for himself at the company. Up until the time it was published, he lived in the shadow of his smokin’ hot older sister who also worked there.
Often he would walk into meetings and be greeted by his direct reports thusly: “Hey look – it’s Meg’s little brother!” To which he would respond, “Hey, come on, guys. I went to Harvard too – and not to the Kennedy School!”
Garlinghouse tried unsuccessfully to scale his fifteen minutes of business fame with a series of food-themed business yarns, including:
- The Bologna Sandwich Conundrum: How Salesforce Will Eat Oracle’s Lunch
- Tomato Bisque Effect: Why Bing’s New Positioning Lacks Meat
- What’s the Deal with Parsley?: A Seinfeld-ian Look at the Mobile Industry
Garlinghouse has great product chops and is well-regarded by his peers. But critics question whether he’s tough enough to carry out the headcount decisions Mayer will issue to her top lieutenants.
We talked to Garlinghouse on the phone yesterday. He acknowledged the challenge but affirmed that he was up to it.
“Just because I’m from Kansas doesn’t mean I don’t know gangsta.” he said. “I mean, check out this goatee.”
5. Carol Bartz