It hit me this morning that the composition of the new management teams at MySpace, AOL and Yahoo! are pretty interesting. All of the teams have been brought in to accomplish a turnaround of a large consumer internet company. Yet, when comparing these teams against each other, each brings a very different perspective.
Doing a quick scan of the *latest* job held by a few of the new senior managers, you realize that each of these three teams are pretty homogeneous within themselves. However, comparing these teams next to each other, they’re quite different.
Former consumer internet entrepreneurs and startup execs.
Owen Van Natta, the new CEO, was the COO at Facebook as it transitioned from startup to largeco. Jason Hirschhorn, the new CPO, was an exec at Sling Media before it was acquired by EchoStar. Mike Jones, the new COO, founded Userplane and then Tsavo before heading to MySpace. And as if to prove the point, MySpace recently bought iLike, and 1/2 of the press release was about the founding team.
Former consumer internet large company execs.
Tim Armstrong, the new CEO, came in from Google where he was President of the Americas Operations. Brad Garlinghouse, the President of Internet and Mobile Communications was SVP of Communications and Communities at Yahoo! before joining. Jeff Levick, the President of Global Advertising and Strategy, was VP of Industry Development and Marketing in the Americas at Google. Admittedly, there’s a chink in the armor on this one – Armstrong got to Google in 2000, when it was still effectively a startup.
Former enterprise large company execs.
Carol Bartz, the new CEO, was the CEO of Autodesk prior to joining Yahoo!. Carol was there for 14 years. Ari Balogh the EVP of Product and CTO, joined before the new team came in. However, he fits. Prior to Yahoo! he was EVP and CTO and Head of Global Product Development at Verisign. He was there for 10 years. Bryan Lamkin, the new SVP of Applications, was previously the SVP & GM of the Creative Solutions business unit at Adobe. He was there for 14 years.
This all raises two questions:
Is one of these team compositions inherently more likely to succeed in a turnaround effort of a large consumer internet company? You could argue the startup guys at MySpace are scrappier and have direct domain expertise. That said, maybe the AOL folks have an advantage – they’ve most recently operated large consumer internet companies and have seen systems, functional and not, which can help them guide the company. The Yahoo! folks, frankly, would seem the odd team out. Large company enterprise people running a consumer internet turnaround? Well, I remember when I joined IBM as my first job out of undergrad. I felt like my outsider perspective actually let me see broken things more clearly. Perhaps this is the inherent advantage of the Yahoo! team?
Do these teams recognize their biases? Like I said, in founding a startup it’s critical that you create a founding team with synergistic skills. That likely goes for management teams of large companies as well. The problem, though, is that just like folks tend to found companies with people like themselves, they also tend to hire people like themselves. I’m just as guilty as the next. Hopefully these management teams recognize they lean one way or another and work to compensate accordingly.
What do you all think? What are the inherent advantages / disadvantages of the various teams?