That Sticky Memo

My son Matt came to me last month and declared that he took some of his summer earnings to purchase shares in Yahoo! I groaned and asked him why, knowing full well that the world’s largest portal has fallen behind its competitors in some key areas. He was nonetheless resolute in the prospects for his investment.

I’ve been keeping an eye on Donna Bogatin’s ZDNet’s coverage alleging an intentional leak of an internal memo penned by a Yahoo SVP that found its way onto the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s “Marketplace” section yesterday. (My son sheepishly pointed it out.)

Ms. Bogatin intimates that the so-called “peanut butter” memo, a supposed internal rallying cry that destructively dishes on Yahoo’s business strategy, was purposefully leaked to The Journal.

“Yahoo appears to be ‘OK’ with last weekend’s strategically published “document” in the Wall Street Journal, saying it is a sign of the “open, collaborative culture” inside the company, according to Financial Times reports.”

Sensing that Terry Semel is all too aware of his company’s lack of media mojo of late, I would find it hard to believe that the Sunnyvale CEO authorized planting this in The Journal. Could it have been leaked by others within the organization? Sure. In fact, issuing any memo within a high (media) profile enterprise is tantamount to putting out a news release. Also, wasn’t this widely reported online before The Journal had it?

Ms. Bogatin claims that the kitschy language used in the memo, and the fact that The Journal did not divulge how it came into its possession, gives the memo a sinister PR-like pale:

“…the kitschy peanut butter branding of the “document” bespeaks a broader, deliberate corporate communications mission.”

Curious theory, but again, if given the choice, I am all but certain that Mr. Semel would have preferred that his company’s dirty laundry remain in the dryer.

(Matt, Yahoo’s stock is up a half point today.)