Yahoo has seen its share of troubles over the years as it has tried hard to find solid leadership and identify who they are and to whom. They have tried to be a technology company, but bottom line, much like how AOL has figured out, they are a media company. To their credit Yahoo! got out of the search business when they created the search deal with Microsoft. Anything that is done at Yahoo!’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California will have an impact on Yahoo! Canada, over the last six years there has been substantial turn over at all levels.
When I first got to know the team here in Canada it was headed up by Kerry Munro, who was based in Toronto, he created a culture, one where the team here in Canada felt such passion for the brand that I think they would actually “bleed purple.” Then things started to change three years ago, Yahoo lost its identify, laid off a considerable number of employees in Canada including Kerry (who has seems to be doing just fine). Next was Matt Idema who was based in San Francisco but given the reigns to run Yahoo! Canada from the United States. Matt took some issue with the stories we covered here on Profectio about Yahoo’s operations in Canada being a “ghost town,” which lead to some back and forth emails between the two of us. Matt left Yahoo! to join Facebook back in March 2010. Michel Protti is the current Country Manager, he too is running Yahoo! Canada out of Sunnydale, but is Canadian born, just has not lived in Canada for some fifteen years.
Normally this is the part where I’d say something like, “they are smarter than I am”, “Yahoo’s management knows what they are doing,” but unfortunately that seems to be in flux as well. Now to be fair, I haven’t met Michel yet, that will be tomorrow but logic just dictates that you can not run the Canadian division of a company from the United States. You need to be here on the street, understanding what consumers want and more importantly understanding what advertisers and brands need that is specific to the country you operate in. Let’s take a look at other large international media properties and see how they operate, AOL Canada, Facebook Canada, Google Canada, LinkedIn Canada and Microsoft Canada, all run out of the Toronto area and have there Canadian leadership based here, so why do you think you can win the game by doing it differently?
The team here in Toronto, and I think you still have employees in Montreal is going a great job fighting the fight and continues to bring on advertising revenue despite your issues south of the border but understand that you have them in handcuffs if you not allow Canadians to run Canada in Canada.