Yang has always had a rather informal approach to communication with his employees. That might be because Yahoo! is his baby and he can't just stiffen up and give up on so many years of his work and life, as Microsoft would have him do. As a parent, you want to see your young be well on their own and not simple cogs in a larger machine.
He wrote emails to his 'yahoos' all throughout the decision making process, informing them of what was going on, and after yesterday's turning down the Microsoft bid, he decided to share the reasons of that happening.
"first, our global brand is a tremendous base from which to build leadership as the starting point for internet use: yahoo! is one of the most recognizable and admired brands in the world. we have some 500 million users (1 out of every 2 internet users worldwide). in the u.s., we are #1 in personalized home pages, mail, music, news, sports, shopping and travel. yahoo! also is #1 in time spent on our sites, an increasingly important metric for marketers," he wrote, in his traditional manner, without capital letters.
"second, our substantial operating cash flow, which we expect to grow in the double digits in 2009, gives us the financial flexibility to execute our plans.
third, we have made important investments in our core computing infrastructure that provides us greater scalability and increases the rate of iteration on core technologies like algorithmic search as much as tenfold. and of course, you're familiar with our investments in enhanced search technology through panama," Jerry Yang continued.
All of the above are the reasons why the board considered Microsoft's bid to "substantially undervalue" Yahoo!, and if you examine the facts more carefully, you'd think that he is absolutely right and that there's actually a bright future ahead of the Sunnyvale-based company.
What he missed to point out was that Google is gearing up and already has a head start with advertising, the one direction Yahoo! is trying to make a strong push in. He said that the goals set before him are to grow visits to Yahoo! starting points and properties by approximately 15% per year, in the following years. I for one see a big problem with that, as the Mountain View-based company is not just going to give up and let Yahoo! steal its users; there's going to be a fight to the end and if I were to stick my neck out for any of the two right now, as much as I wouldn't want to admit it, it'd have to be Google. The one chance Yang's company still has of doing that is if it opens up even further, out-googling Google, as Erick Schonfeld of Tech Crunch said yesterday.
A strong point for Yahoo!, however, is the mobile market, where it has the upper hand over Google, due to the latter's different approach to the concept. The Sunnyvale-based company signed collaboration deals and partnerships, while the other is working on Android. If it manages to strike big in this key area, it would have a shot at Google eventually.
The email Jerry Yang wrote was an honest one, at least that's what I gathered from the tone it was written in. It also showed confidence in his brand and company, and the willingness to go down with the ship, should it ever come to that. Failing to admit that there's something that he can't control, namely the competition, should have brought a frown on many yahoos faces, though.