One way (maybe the only way) Yahoo can succeed

marissamayerAlibaba’s IPO has come and gone and with it Yahoo has lost the role of Alibaba proxy and its shares have begun to slide. Yahoo’s Wall Street honeymoon, if there ever was one, is over, leaving the company trying almost anything it can to avoid sliding into oblivion. Having covered Yahoo continuously since its founding 20 years ago it is clear Y! has little chance of managing its way out of this latest of many crises despite all the associated cash. But — if it will — Yahoo could invest its way to even greater success.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, thinking like Type A CEOs nearly always seem to think, wants to take some of the […]

So Pat McGovern walks into a bar…

PatinredPat McGovern died this week at 76 in Palo Alto totally surprising me because I didn’t even know he had been ill. Uncle Pat, as we called him, was the founder of Computerworld back in 1967 and the year before that research firm International Data Corp., started in his suburban Boston kitchen. Pat helped turn the computer business into an industry and employed a lot of people along the way including me. He was an exceptional person and I’d like to tell you why.

Pat ran a company that published about 200 computer magazines all over the world. Each December he traveled the globe to give holiday bonuses to every employee he could find. The bonuses […]

Where have you gone, Engine Charlie?

first-corvette-1953Charles Erwin Wilson, known as “Engine Charlie,” was president of General Motors and later Secretary of Defense under President Dwight Eisenhower. He is broadly — and incorrectly — quoted as having said during his Senate confirmation hearing “what’s good for General Motors is good for America.” His actual quote is more nuanced: “For years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors and vice versa.”

This is a fascinating bit of history because we aren’t talking about today’s General Motors or even today’s United States of America but the GM and the USA of 1953 — a time when both were leading the world. Yet look at the equivocation in […]

The Exit Trap

exitI was with a friend recently who has a pretty exciting Internet startup company. He has raised some money and might raise more, his product is in beta and it’s good. It solves a difficult technical problem many companies are struggling with. We argued a little over the name of the product. Of course I thought my suggested name was better or certainly cleverer, but then he said, “It doesn’t matter because we’ll probably sell the company before the product ever ships. It may never appear at all.”

His company will exit almost before it enters. This is happening a lot lately and we generally think it is a good thing but it’s not.

If, like me, […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 17 — Do the Wave

surf_board-legAnd so our two month retrospective comes to an end with this 17th and final chapter, circa 1996. I hope you have enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’ll be back to talk about the eBook version of this work as well as what I’ve been up to for the last eight weeks. It’s more than I ever expected… and less.




We’re floating now on surfboards 300 yards north of the big public pier in Santa Cruz, California. As our feet slowly become numb in the cold Pacific water, it’s good to ponder the fact that this section of coastline, only fifteen miles […]