Last year, as I sat in my cube and watched executives leave amid financial turmoil, I snapped this picture, which I thought nicely summed up the feeling many of us employees had at the time. Unsure if things were on their way towards getting better, people were asking themselves if the future held more of the same or some brighter possibilities.
I had no way of knowing just how much worse it could get.
Today, I’m attending the Yahoo! shareholder meeting as an ex-employee and a frustrated shareholder. I’m curious to see how management deals with what will likely be a media circus and an auditorium full of vocal people. Additionally, I really want to discover how this management team deals with this pressure. If Yahoo! is really embracing “the Open Web” and understands that the corporate culture starts at the top, I expect them to fess up to their mistakes, take difficult questions and admit to not knowing the answers to certain questions that get asked.
However, if the management team is as weak as I think it is, I expect them to be evasive, use double-speak and generally avoid the really challenging questions.
I thought it would be interesting to make my own Top 10 list of key questions that I think shareholders would like honest answers to:
- Why are you hiring back people who were laid off and given generous severance packages; especially at higher salaries and with signing bonuses? Isn’t this a complete waste of company money, not to mention a huge burden on employee time and morale?
- What reason do your search-only customers have for staying with Yahoo!, now that you’ve agreed to place Google searches on the list of results?
- Are you going to be using the data from the Google partnership to allocate search monetization resources?
- How long do you believe it takes for a reorganization to prove effective (or not)?
- Given your answer, don’t you think that the number of reorgs in the past 18 months has actually been harmful, rather than helpful? Why do you keep pursuing this tumultuous line of action?
- When will you know you’re not the right leadership for this company? What are you measuring yourselves on?
- If your Asian presence is so important to your future strategy, can you give us more specifics on what is going on there and how it should be evaluated? The generalities are unsatisfactory at this point.
- Why is the Connected Life segment of the business still operated separately from the rest? That doesn’t make sense, are you kowtowing to egos?
- Why aren’t you firing more often? Any large and disciplined company understands that it needs to set the tone for unacceptable behavior – why aren’t you more clear on this?
- What are your metrics around retention and how have they trended over the past 24 months? Couldn’t you tell that you had a workforce issue quite a while ago, if you’d been seriously tracking these numbers?
- Given all of the turmoil around the company related to being publicly-traded and the bearish valuation (according to your evaluations) of the company, why haven’t we heard more about a Management Buyout of Yahoo!? Wouldn’t the company be more nimble out of the public markets for a while?
If you've got additional questions, please feel free to add them in the comments and discuss them.