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Yahoo! press reports are 'full of sh*t' - CEO Semel

No need to be so polite, Terry

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Yahoo! has become leakier than a sieve. Typically this is a sign of an unhappy place to work - which Yahoo! may or may not be, we hesitate to judge.

But two recent important leaks springing from the world's former favourite dotcom darling show different motives at play.

Last month, the WSJ published the incomprehensible Peanut Butter manifesto, penned by Yahoo! senior veep Brad Garlinghouse: this was "leaked" in the way that politicians leak stuff to pet journalists. Designed to prove that the company knows what it must do to fight Google, it proved definitively that Microsoft really should add a platitude-checker to MS-Word.

And this week we have a howl of indignation from Terry Semel, Yahoo!'s CEO, in an internal webcast to the troops, explaining the company's recent top-level re-org. His closing remarks were transcribed and published, fittingly enough on a Yahoo! 360° blog by a brave or stupid or sycophantic - or possibly all of the above - employee, to show what a fantastic leader Semel is.

Here goes:

At the next all-hands. Just as a reminder. I'm sorry I didn't do it today. I'm gonna put up there all of the press reports on how Yahoo! was going out of business 5 years ago. And of how we were gonna be swallowed up by AOL, owned by Time-Warner, and by Microsoft, and by everybody else. And Yahoo! looked like it had a dim future. Well those headlines, of course, were used to wrap a lot of fish in a lot of people's houses, as the expression goes. And they were all full of shit, and they had no idea what we had planned for them. And they do not now as well!

So, we could read about how I'm gonna join some retirement home. And we could read about how the company doesn't have a vision. And we could read about how we can't do this and we can't do that. Trust me, they will be as full of shit this time as they were last time.

So few words and so many hostages to fortune! Semel's rhetoric goes to show how well-balanced he is: he's got a chip on both shoulders.

Yahoo! doesn't need a vision: it's got enough eyeballs already. It just needs to get up to Google standards in contextualising and selling online ads, a market that it invented. OK so it was Overture that invented search-advertising - but Yahoo! bought that company and so has inherited its mantle. Yahoo! has a new advertising platform, called Panama, which is supposed to be better than its old advertising platform, and Semel's position as Yahoo!'s top dog depends mostly on the success of its roll-out.

So that's our shit: for some more of tomorrow's wrapping paper, turn to GigaOm's OM Malik who broadcast Semel's remarks to a wider world. ®

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