Is Yahoo clamming up: authenticity and transparency under threat?

Yahoo music blog logoA year ago I praised Yahoo’s music team for their openness, authentic voice and for recognising the value of conversation. By coincidence, last night, exactly a year later, I listened to Yahoo’s Bradley Horowitz on IT Conversations talking about their ethic of ‘opening up’ in various ways. Towards the end of his talk (in the last three minutes or so), he explicitly refers to management blogging and the authentic voice as part of this.
The talk was recorded last June (though I’m only aware of becoming available recently). Since then, there has been the infamous ‘peanut butter’ memo which aired some dirty laundry within Yahoo — not a blog, to be sure, but a leak that perhaps made Yahoo’s transparency as an organisation a little uncomfortable.
That was in November. There have been only five new posts on the Yahoo Music Blog since then, and all rather impersonal, or at least uncontroversial. That compares with 18 posts last June and 15 last May.

I’m not an avid Yahoo-watcher, so it’s perfect possible that I could put together 2 and 2 and make 5 on this (someone please shout if I am — perhaps everyone at Yahoo Music has just been very busy recently?). I’m only speculating about whether there could be a connection, and whether one of the pioneers of the let-it-all-hang-out approach to corporate communications has got cold feet. Chris Anderson praises radical transparency, saying “businesses are shifting from command and control to ‘out of control’, distributing more and more power to the rank and file”. But enterprises of all kinds like control, like to be able to plan, like predictability. So there’s a tension here, whatever the prophets of letting-it-all-hang-out would have you believe.
[Update, 14 February 2007: I wake up next morning to read that Yahoo Music is losing two senior managers and its future is being called into question. Another coincidence, as I don’t think this news had made it onto the web when I wrote yesterday, and I certainly hadn’t read it or heard it.]

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