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I worked for Yahoo in the years surrounding the Microsoft debacle. Let me tell you in no uncertain terms that Yahoo was the worst company I worked for.

I had very little work to do. Period. End of statement. I spent most of my time doing practically nothing except playing ping pong and foosball and getting paid for it. A lot of my coworkers and a lot of Yahoos were in the same boat. Needless to say, that once the Microsoft acquisition failed and the layoffs started happening, most of us were out of there.

On top of that, there was very much a prima donna attitude around Yahoo, with a great deal of self-entitlement. I remember a couple of threads on devel-random complaining about the lack of ping pong balls, and how that insulted us as Yahoos since it meant that management didn't trust us. Oh the humanity of not providing everyone with $2 worth of ping pong balls!

Yahoo was filled with lazy workers, and an extremely fat layer of lazy management. I vaguely remember Rasmus running a script that calculated around 70 employees per VP. As well, the internal politics at Yahoo was astounding. One of my friends worked on an iPhone app on his own free time, and when he tried to get approval, it was held up for months because people were arguing over things like color schemes, and which group should own the app. It was pathetic.

I like what Marisa Mayer is doing. I think by getting rid of some privileges like remote working, it is enforcing a discipline that hasn't been at Yahoo, at least during the years that I was there. Showing up to work is a small price to pay for being paid a great wage and having the opportunity to work for what will hopefully become a first class company again. People need to show up and work and interact with their peers, instead of hiding at home and people not knowing wtf is going on with them. Sure, some people will quit, but quite bluntly, anyone worth their salt would have already left Yahoo by now. Anyone who is happy working in the environment that was Yahoo over the past 5 years is not an A player by any stretch, so it's safe to assume that you can afford to lose them.




Anyone that has worked in the Valley that knows ex-Yahoos have heard crazy, crazy stories of what it was like. I remember hearing a story about an employee who worked there who wanted to quit to do a startup. Her manager panicked, saying, "you can't leave. If you leave, we will lose the headcount because we won't be able to backfill it fast enough." So what happened? The manager made an off-the-books agreement with the person for her to "work from home" for a few more months while the manager scrambled to backfill, still collecting a salary, while doing absolutely nothing at all. I never followed up to see what came out of this. I probably should.

Contrary to the flame-baiting you might see, Marissa is making some progress in turning Yahoo back into a desirable place to work again. I'm hearing from good engineers I know at respectable companies that have either considered it after talking to recruiters or have actually accepted offers. I suspect there is some method to the madness around the remote working policy - we'll just have to see over the long run what shakes out of it.


The way to "fix" entitled, lazy employees and management is to "light their shit up," so to speak.

Give people work, set goals, and hold them accountable. You can't get a completed app approved and on the street in months? Fire the managers involved. Somebody complains that they don't have ping pong balls? Take away the ping pong table.

Stopping remote work will not improve performance. Firing poor performers is the solution, not chaining them to their desk.


Firing people left and right and taking away perks is a fantastic way to run morale that's probably already pretty low. I see what you are saying with regards to the need to light fires under people, but there's other, more positive and more productive ways to go about it.


If you fire the people who deserve to get fired you actually increase morale.


That's not necessarily true. Office politics matter. If you fire popular people - even if they are under-performers - then it will hurt morale.

Firing is always messy business. It's a good idea to avoid it unless it is absolutely necessary.


Agreed. However, I'm running a business, not a social club.

If I have a few bad apples (the lazy, self-entitled employees of a previous post) and they're not responding to being held accountable, the whole staff needs to know I will use all tools available.

Frankly, if you manage properly, there's very little firing you have to do. Most bad employees, when they see you hold people accountable, will find another job. The only ones who stick around are the one's who are holding out for unemployment.


"Anyone who is happy working in the environment that was Yahoo over the past 5 years is not an A player by any stretch, so it's safe to assume that you can afford to lose them."

Great comment.


It's high-grade snark, but the people who implemented Hadoop or Yahoo pipes do not seem to be particularly stupid.



Aren't most of those people gone? :) Doug Cutting (Hadoop) is at Cloudera now...


"Anyone who is happy working in the environment that was Yahoo over the past 5 years is not an A player by any stretch, so it's safe to assume that you can afford to lose them."

Ah but you're not just chopping off the right edge of the bell curve, you're shifting the entire curve to the left. A non-innovative company like yahoo can trivially survive shedding the innovators, but can't survive a system wide forklift downgrade.

Maybe "in this economy" they could have gotten a C- grade dude who needs to work at home on Fridays for whatever reason, well, now they'll be lucky to get a D+ grade dude.




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