An earlier save for Yahoo — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

An earlier save for Yahoo

Get PDF file

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

As co-chief executive of Warner Bros., Terry Semel was one of Hollywood’s kingpins, having taken chances on movies (“Batman”), directors (Clint Eastwood) and deals that struck gold.

But when Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang hired Semel in 2001 to rescue his web portal, eyebrows arched. Semel had barely used a computer.

What he had done was prove himself as a dealmaker and people person. Semel even claimed his lack of technical knowledge was good because it made him a “typical user.”

So, how did Semel take Yahoo from $93 million in losses to $239 million in profits over two years?

To make deals, Semel gets negotiations focused on two or three points instead of 10. He says too many negotiables bog down a deal.

And he’s so good with people that the guy he beat out for the CEO job stayed for a year: “I know it’s a cliché, but he listened, and that won me over,” says Jeff Mallett, Yahoo’s former president. “He has this way of making you feel comfortable, even in tough situations.”

— Adapted from “Bringing Up Yahoo,” Fred Vogelstein, Fortune.

Leave a Comment