This is the week to leave Yahoo, it seems — not because something's happening. But because nothing is. Jeremy Zawodny (badge pictured here) and JR Conlin, two Yahoo veterans with 18 years of tenure between them, both took pains to say that their departures had nothing to do with Microsoft or Carl Icahn's bids for the company — believable, since an expected Yahoo-Google search partnership seems to have put both of those overtures into a deep freeze. Higher up the chain, reports confirm the departure of Usama Fayyad, Yahoo's chief data officer, and Jeff Weiner, head of Yahoo's Web-content properties.
Fayyad, a commenter tells us, is planning to return to Microsoft, where he worked before Yahoo. Had Microsoft's bid for Yahoo succeeded, he likely would have been welcomed back; now Microsoft is getting him much more cheaply. (Bassel Ojjeh, who worked with Fayyad at Microsoft and several startups before joining Yahoo, will be promoted to fill Fayyad's spot, a tipster tells us — but how long will he stay without Fayyad?) Weiner is taking temporary gigs with two venture-capital firms — a likely prelude to a CEO job somewhere. If he ever entertained that ambition at Yahoo, he was clearly thwarted by Sue Decker.
Kara Swisher thinks that another reorganization is coming at Yahoo, one which would not have Weiner directly replaced by one of his underlings. That makes a sort of sense, at least in being predictable. Yahoo is famed for its perpetual reorgs, and a pending reshuffle would explain why Yahoo still hasn't said anything publicly about Fayyad and Weiner's exits. This next one, Swisher thinks, would put Decker ally Hilary Schneider higher up the food chain, and undo a split between Yahoo's sales and product groups — one that Decker herself instigated, in a push to move from her previous job as CFO to an operational role.
What will this accomplish? “It would be nice to have sales in the room now, as we develop services, instead of totally separate,” a Yahoo executive told Swisher. Nice, but not game-changing; rather, it would simply undo a mess Decker made on her way up.
A whole lot of noise, about a whole lot of nothing. Silicon Valley is built on the idea of change — but not change for change's sake. Developing new products, not new org charts, is what excites people here.
Even Zawodny, a longtime Yahoo loyalist, the type of person who describes himself as "bleeding purple," is leaving to do a startup. I believe him when he says his departure has nothing to do with Microsoft or Icahn. But it has everything to do with Yahoo.