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Did the fat lady sing?

Not yet. My apologies for the late response, but I’m seeing this four weeks after it was posted, thanks either to my own stupidity or to the genius of Medium’s content delivery system, or both.

Anyway, Yahoo will be around for a few years more, at least as a punchline. This premature obituary makes it sound like Marissa Mayer killed Yahoo by herself, and that’s not true at all. Former CEOs Terry Semel and Carol Bartz made their share of disastrous decisions.*

Fact is, Yahoo has been staggering under the burden of bad ideas. These ideas were foisted upon it by the wizards of Wall Street and the sachems of Sand Hill Road.

Those worthies got it into their heads that Internet companies had to converge with their Old-Media counterparts and turn themselves into the nimble megamedia monoliths of the future. Something went wrong with the experiment, however. Maybe someone peed in the petri dish, but what emerged from the lab was a stumbling mastodon.

That’s one version of the story. The version I prefer is that Yahoo — unlike the classic Silicon Valley startup’s metamorphosis from a caterpillar into a butterfly — has spent twenty-two years and billions of dollars learning how to reverse that process.

* Disclosure: as an ex-Googler I’m inclined to give Marissa a pass.

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