"Screw You Yahoo" Says Former Consultant

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Michelle Chappel, who created the video above, writes in to give us her view of the fall of Yahoo from an insiders perspective:

I have a news tip about a topic you’ve covered: the Yahoo layoffs.

I’ve been a consultant/contractor at Yahoo three different times. It’s one of my favorite companies to work for–including AltaVista, Google, TiVo, and eBay–because the people are so nice there! Here is some background information on what it was like to be at Yahoo right before the fall, as well as a recount of my experience on “Layoff Day.”

The fact that Yahoo would be having another round of layoffs was first announced at a company-wide meeting an hour before Yahoo threw a huge Oktoberfest party in which beer, bratwurst and German chocolate cake were served to everyone on campus. A week later we received sparkling wine and cupcakes to celebrate a recent Developer Network (YDN) success. Many people were curious as to why so much money was being spent on these parties, not to mention the upcoming Christmas party, because Yahoo was in such dire straights.

The layoffs were preceded by a massive re-org. Suddenly we were having lots of meetings with people we’d never worked with before. The rumor going ’round was that if you were a manager with fewer than 5 reports, you’d either be demoted, or fired. One woman who lost all her reports packed up her desk weeks in advance of layoffs because she couldn’t take the pressure anymore. She’d always seemed so sure of herself before. A couple of others told me they secretly wished they’d be let go because they were sick of all the changes at Yahoo this past year. One girlfriend admitted she was very angry about it all, and that Jerry Yang had screwed up. But most people at Yahoo stayed quiet… and tried to be good… and extra dutiful… to save their jobs.

Towards the end, some of us were asked to submit reports again and again, and we all knew it was so that the powers-that-be could determine who would stay and who would go. Some people just stopped working altogether because there was nothing to do. We were pretty sure folks were going to lose their jobs on December 10th because all the classrooms had been booked on that day. But at meetings right before Thanksgiving, the date “December 10th” wasn’t even placed on timelines on whiteboards. It was as if nothing was going to happen, even though we all knew layoffs were inevitable. The VP of my division sent LinkedIn invites to all his reports in late November, so we figured that meant he was going to be asked to leave. But we weren’t sure because he was such a stellar boss. It made no sense. It was a crazy time.

On the day Yahoo was having layoffs I recorded a music video called “S**** You Yahoo”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gn4soId0EM&fmt=22

It broke my heart to watch friends and co-workers worry about whether they’d lose their jobs. I wanted them to know they’re not alone, encourage them to have hope, and maybe even make them laugh a little. The video even proposes an out-of-the-box solution to our trying economic times. I used your layoff tracker and Yahoo piece (12/10/08) for the statistics in it. (Best to watch it in HD so you can read the signs.)

I hope this background information is interesting to you, and that you enjoy the music video. This song is not just about Yahoo, it’s about all companies having layoffs right now. It would be terrific if you’d consider doing a story on this to help raise people’s spirits during this economic downturn.

Happy Holidays!
Michelle

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