So, this brings me to Rocco's criticism that I should just shut up and enjoy the ride with Mayer at the helm. And he invokes the spirit of Steve Jobs : "Ask Steve Jobs: shareholders are pests." So, I should quit being a backseat driver here.
I have a big problem with this.
CEOs and boards make better decisions when they know informed shareholders are watching over their shoulders. It's called accountability. And guess what, it works for humans too. When we know we will be judged on our decisions, we think a little harder and -- usually -- make a better decision as a result.
Would the financial markets be a better place if shareholders just shut up and didn't trouble management with their opinions? I think we tried that in the middle of last decade with all the banks leading up to the financial collapse. How did that work out for all of us?Of course, shareholders are going to have their share of boneheaded ideas, just like any CEO, director or engineer. Management shouldn't shift to accommodate every shareholder opinion. But CEOs make better decisions when more shareholders speak up, not fewer. So, I'm not going to shut up. I'm going to keep giving pats on the back to Marissa when she deserves it and criticizing her -- fairly, I hope -- when I think it's warranted. (And, Rocco, show me exactly in my original post where I discounted "Mayer's attempts to restore employee morale, focus on products and position Yahoo! for the long term.") It's as silly to talk about Steve Jobs and insist that shareholders are always wrong as it is to say that CEOs are always right. Can you imagine if someone told me a few months ago, "Hey, how can you criticize Scott Thompson? He's the CEO. Don't you remember what Steve Jobs said about shareholders? You should just shut up and enjoy the ride on the S.S. Thompson because this thing is going to be a rocket ship to the moon!" I'm a believer that people can walk and chew gum at the same time. It is possible to make decisions that are right for the company in the long term without needlessly causing the stock to drop 10% within a few days. I'm still very confident that Marissa Mayer is the right choice for CEO of Yahoo! and will be very successful in the short term and the long term. In the meantime, I hope all shareholders will continue to voice their opinions about decisions that their CEOs are making on their behalf. Whether their opinions are helpful or not, they'll lead on balance to a much stronger and more accountable culture for executives and boards. At the time of publication, Jackson was long YHOO.
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