Thursday, July 28, 2016

Eating One's Young

There is an interesting tale in Fast Company about Yahoo. They note:

According to John Sullivan, a talent management consultant who advises firms on recruiting strategies, this strategy failure shouldn't come as a huge shock. "Most mergers don’t work," he says. Only a few big companies acquire smaller organizations successfully, and it’s a very thoughtful process. "It’s like divorced families joining," he adds. The big issue with Yahoo was that it simply did not have the system in place to cultivate the new talent and make them feel part of the new company. "Yahoo has a bad habit of killing the products [it buys]," Sullivan says. "It doesn’t make you feel welcome." A few examples of the dozens of startup products Yahoo bought and then shut down include MessageMe, Vizify, and EvntLive. Many companies are simply not good at acquiring. Sullivan used to work at Hewlett-Packard, and he noted the stifling culture that often led to unhappy new entrants. To get talent to work well under new management, they have to be enthusiastic. The new company should look exciting—a place where they can continue to do their work. By appearances, Yahoo is likely not that place. Sullivan points to Facebook, whose campus is filled with perks like "a free ice cream store." Just the space itself, he believes, could likely energize new additions. Sullivan adds that Facebook's ethos is designed to build and innovate new products. In contrast, Yahoo's office and internal culture, says Sullivan, doesn't appear (from his outsider's perspective) to have that kind of startup excitement.

So why does Verizon think it can do what Yahoo did not accomplish? Having watched Verizon since my NY Tel days in 1964, that is some 52 years, both within and without, one thing is clear. The "immune system" of Verizon rejects anything new. So the above mentioned problem with Yahoo will certainly not be remedied by Verizon. If anything it will be accelerated.

All one has to do is look at those whom Verizon brought in from the outside, the average tenure was less than four years. Their replacements were long time company stalwarts. Not that they really were any better, in fact they were often worse, look at Genuity, but the system will not accept new folks. Even those who started there and then returned!

Can a company change this cycle. I have yet to see it happen. It is often not the CEO who does it but the corporate culture. The resentment of the old times, the pole climbers, the Community College grads who resent the Harvard and Stanford grads. It just does not seem to work. Period!