This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

Yahoo, Trust and the Talent Shortage

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Chief Executive Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! (YHOO) is a fascinating story not just because she's relatively young and female, but because she's a technologist.

A technologist hasn't run Yahoo! for 15 years. Ever since the company's founders decided to listen to Wall Street, hire a CEO named Tim Koogle and become a "portal" and then a "media company," Yahoo! has been at odds with the ethos of its Silicon Valley home.

The company Mayer took over last summer was a collection of media properties -- news, weather, sports, business -- with most of the technology work outsourced to companies including Microsoft (MSFT).

Mayer's primary goal is to change this, but Yahoo! is a damaged brand in the Valley. Years of putting finance ahead of technology, at Wall Street's insistence, has hurt its reputation among the people Mayer most needs to trust her, the relatively small number of super-talented programmers and thinkers from whom the next big thing may emerge.

This isn't a problem for Facebook (FB). It's too new. It's not a problem for Google (GOOG). Google has earned the trust of talent. Even people who have left it tell me it's a good place to be from.

But it is a problem for such Silicon Valley rivals as Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which has had more drama than a prime-time soap over the last decade, and for Oracle (ORCL), where everyone knows the bottom line is the only one that counts.

Strange as it may be to know, the bottom line isn't the only line talent looks at. (I'm married to a talented programmer, so I know this.) Relationships matter to talent, the work matters to talent, the team matters to talent, and the feeling that their work -- their life's work -- is in good hands matters a lot.

So, TechCrunch reports, Mayer has hired a talent scout from Disney (DIS). She also sent "we care" packages to former key employees who felt let down by the company and sent new COO Henrique de Castro out on the road, according to AllThingsD. This all hints at big things ahead in personalization.

All this is in the name of building a new team of technologists who might create the next big thing, something mobile and personal that uses big data to deliver real value to consumers. Money alone won't make that happen. It has to be discovered, then nurtured, the way the old Hollywood studios found and nurtured talent 80 years ago.

As the economy continues to grow, the problem Yahoo! is addressing is going to become increasingly common throughout business. The talent you turned off on the way down is going to be reluctant to trust you now that we're on the way up.

Strange to be writing about labor shortages with unemployment still near 8%, but not all labor is created equal. Talent, that ineffable something that can create enormous value and create other jobs in the wake of that value, will always be in short supply.

Wall Street is going to have to learn to start treating talent the way it wants to be treated, and those companies that do that best are going to prosper most in the 2010s.



At the time of publication the author had positions in YHOO, MSFT and GOOG.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,098.45 +18.88 0.11%
S&P 500 2,003.37 +6.63 0.33%
NASDAQ 4,580.2710 +22.5760 0.50%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs