Yahoo relies on PR spin to save it

After weeks waiting for Yahoo boss Scott Thompson to come up with a cunning plan to save the company, it turns out that he will be depending on PR spin.

According to Thompson, along with 2,000 job cuts, Yahoo will sharpen its focus on users, advertisers and overlooked areas such as commerce.

Literally decimating its staff would be seen as a good way of reducing costs, but sharpening focus is what most people do when they decide not to have that last pint before getting into their car.

Thompson, a former PayPal executive credited with driving growth at eBay’s payments division, has picked up the deck at Yahoo, shuffled the company structure and divided it into three piles.

According to a memo from Thompson, the company would be organised along three core divisions starting in May.

The company’s three new divisions will include a consumer arm that will focus on media content under Ross Levinsohn and comprise of “connections” like Flickr, search and email, and e-commerce.

Commerce will receive new emphasis and will be critical to future growth. So, making money is going to be the new way of, er, making money.

He said that this does not mean that Yahoo is going to give up its core business, and that will earn it the right to pursue new growth opportunities.

A new “regions” division will deal with advertisers, while a technology division will handle Yahoo’s infrastructure and platforms.

What is lacking from the restructuring is something that will turn the company around or even defining what the company wants to be. Focusing on customers is usually what PR people say their company is doing when they don’t know what else to say. Many people would want to know who Yahoo thinks its users really are.

Thompson’s memo mentioned expanding beyond “traditional” e-commerce. The comment is also something from the PR spinner book of tricks. If he were to take Yahoo into the baked goods market, that would be beyond traditional e-commerce, but would be an unlikely move.

The memo ends with a traditional management rallying cry: “It’s time for Yahoo to move forward, and fast”.  Because moving backwards, slowly, is not really an option.