Yahoo And The Peanut Butter Manifesto

By: Chris Bryant

One of the great internal battles at any successful company is the desire to expand versus the desire to branch out into other areas.  After all, if an organization is wildly successful at one thing, they usually feel that they can be successful at anything. 

That line of thinking is particularly true at Yahoo, Google, and MSN, today's three largest search engines.  All three companies are continually expanding, and a senior executive at Yahoo recently sent an internal memo that basically said Yahoo is spreading itself too thin.   Nothing unusual there, since it's common for executives at rapidly-expanding companies to guard against such things - but the comparison the exec used to draw this conclusion was rather unusual.

According to the November 18/19, 2006 edition of The Wall Street Journal, a story by Kevin J.

Delaney this memo is now known as "The Peanut Butter Manifesto".  It's called that because the memo's author, Yahoo Sr. VP Brad Garlinghouse, feels that Yahoo is concentrating its time and resources as you or I would spread peanut butter - evenly.   Basically, Mr. Garlinghouse feels that Yahoo needs to concentrate its resource use on fewer tasks, allowing Yahoo to do a better job on those particular projects.  (I will not reprint the entire thing here, but if you do a search on "peanut butter manifesto", I bet you come up with a copy of it in about 3 seconds.) 

Here's the line that will send shivers up a few spines:

"We must reduce our headcount by 15-20%."

While the memo didn't name specific areas that would be hit by such a headcount, it's a good bet that the job cuts won't be evenly spread.  After allScience Articles, that would be way too much like peanut butter!

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