Yahoo inches ever closer to becoming a verb

YahhoedWhen we were hired as Yahoo’s BtoB agency about six years ago, the new chief communications officer told us he had one goal: to turn Yahoo into a verb (i.e. “Hey, Syd, would you Yahoo the word truncated for me” or “What’s the origin of the phrase, ‘In like Flynn?’ Dammit Birkhahn, Do I look like Daniel Webster? Yahoo the damn thing.”).

Needless to say, Yahoo never came remotely close to supplanting Xerox, Kleenex or any other product to find its way into the popular business lexicon.

Instead, under the aegis of then CEO Carol Bartz (easily the most foul-mouthed executive I’ve had the misfortune to meet), Yahoo continued its death spiral.

Then, Queen Marissa Mayer ascended to Y’s throne, promising to restore the kingdom to its one-time greatness (and, who knows, maybe even turning Yahoo into a verb in the process).

Alas, a New York Times article reported that Yahoo’s just started a formal process that could result in selling all or part of what’s left.

So, Mayer’s strategy of buying small companies that few had ever heard of, jettisoning significant capabilities and alienating thousands of workers by ending telecommuting, failed miserably. In fact, Queen Marissa may very well be remembered as Silicon Valley’s answer to Anne Boleyn (while, hopefully, not suffering the latter’s dreadful fate).

On the plus-side of the ledger, though, Mayer may be finally be delivering on that long-forgotten CCO’s demand to turn Yahoo into a verb. I could see the Y-word easily finding its way into such statements as:

“Be careful you don’t Yahoo that report. Moed skewered the last, poor sap who did.”   


 “You catch the Mets last night? Tell me Duda didn’t Yahoo that ground ball. He’s got to go.”

And, speaking of going, I better wrap-up this blog STAT or I’ll be fired for Yahooing the start of yet another meeting.



9 thoughts on “Yahoo inches ever closer to becoming a verb

  1. For those who haven’t read this – it’s a gem.

    In terms of executive recruiting and monitoring Yahoo classifies as a stunning example of stockholder non accountability. From Jerry Yang’s rejection of the Microsoft purchase offer to celebration of profanity to doctored up resumes to two-page model-like spreads in Vogue magazine. Boards like that are the reason why people convert their investments into bonds.

    • Hi Brain: Point taken and I do try to avoid “bashing” former clients. But, this one is richly deserved, especially considering the way in which this particular client treated our team.

      • Yahoo’s arrogance is pretty well-documented and will be a business case study of how to screw it up for decades to come. While I agree with Brian in general principle – especially less high-profile companies – I’d say Yahoo is fair game.

  2. Good point, Peter. I’m concerned that Ed’s recent four-page, semi-nude layout in GQ might be the death-knell for Peppercomm.

    • I kind of like it for its Burt Reynolds/Cosmo retro vibe. But we digress. I really found Mayer’s posturing offensive. You’ve made the point that we give out too many award to kids for last place and it does them no good. Perfect example: Did you see Mark “The Water Drinker” Rubio puffing out his chest after a 2nd-place Nevada finish and practically naming his VP pick? Some “managers” really aren’t in it to win it.

  3. I knew it was over the moment Mayer did a spread in Vogue. What is it with CEOs who have one good quarter and go around high-fiving everyone?

  4. Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I’m sure that they were dismissive of Google 14 years ago.

  5. So true. She also did a number on women returning to work after pregnancy by basically taking no maternity time (twice!). She set such a poor example for working women already under pressure related to maternity time. And I’m sure she alienated women on her staff who likely let they needed to do the same. The absolute antithesis of someone like Mark Zuckerberg, taking two months of paternity and supporting men in his company and others to take paid time off.