A Look At the BoDs for Yahoo, Microsoft and Google


Much like everyone else, I’ve been following Microsoft’s attempted acquisition of Yahoo, so when I read this morning reports that Yahoo’s Board of Directors is expected to reject Microsoft’s offer I wondered “Who exactly are we talking about when referring to Yahoo’s BoD?”I was a bit underwhelmed by my findings, more so when comparing them to Microsoft, and even more so when comparing Yahoo’s board to that of front-runner Google. Moreover, I was reminded of the fantastic article from the December 16th New York Times ‘Google Gets Ready to Rumble With Microsoft’–which you can read here: http://tinyurl.com/3djxhn)–as well as this now famous quote made by David Ogilvy:

“I had a friend who was the King’s surgeon in England. One day I asked him what makes a great surgeon. He replied, “What distinguishes a great surgeon is his knowledge. He knows more than other surgeons. During an operation he finds something which he wasn’t expecting, recognizes it and knows what to do about it.”

The BoDs for each company are given Ogilvy Quote Factor ratings on a scale of 1-10–with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest–and are presented in the following order:
(1) Yahoo
(2) Microsoft
(3) Google

(1) YAHOO’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Roy Bostock, Chairman Yahoo! Inc.
Ron Burkle, Founder & Managing Partner, The Yucaipa Companies
Eric Hippeau, Managing Partner, SOFTBANK Capital
Vyomesh Joshi, EVP, Imaging Printing Group, Hewlett Packard
Arthur Kern, Founder Chairman, American Media*
Robert Kotick, Chairman CEO, Activision
Ed Kozel, Chairman, Skyrider**
Gary Wilson, Chairman Emeritus, Northwest Airlines Corporation***
Jerry Yang, CEO, Yahoo! Inc.
Maggie Wilderotter, Chairman CEO, Citizens Communications Company****

*Citizens Communications Company ($2.025 billion revenue)
**Skyrider (P2P start-up backed by Sequoia & CRV)
***American Media (Star, National Enquirer, Mens Fitness, Muscle and Fitness, Flex)
****Northwest Airlines (do not even know where to begin)

YAHOO’S OGILVY QUOTE FACTOR: 3

(2) MICROSOFT’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft
James I. Cash Jr., Former Professor, Harvard Business School; director, GE, Wal-Mart*
Dina Dublon, Former CFO, JPMorgan Chase
Bill Gates, Chairman, Microsoft
Raymond V. Gilmartin, Former Chairman, President CEO, Merck & Co., Inc.; professor, Harvard Business School*
Reed Hastings, Founder, Chairman CEO, Netflix, Inc.
David F. Marquardt, General Partner, August Capital
Charles H. Noski, Former Vice Chairman, AT&T Corporation; VP CFO, Northrop Grumman
Dr. Helmut Panke, Former Chairman of the Board of Management, BMW AG
Jon A. Shirley, Former President COO, Microsoft

With Microsoft’s BoD we find our first two examples of business school faculty, but unlike the case with Google, Microsoft’s directors are current (Raymond Gilmartin) or former (James Cash, Jr.) professors
*Raymond Gilmartin was ousted as Chairman, President & CEO following Merck’s worldwide withdrawal of Vioxx, which has led to 27,000 pending lawsuits leaving Merck liable for $5-$50 billion
**Reed Hastings, ahh… now I know why I cannot ‘Play Now’ Netflix movies on my Mac even though I pay the same monthly fee as Windows users
***Charles Noski’s current full-time employer, Northrup Grumman, is a ‘designer, systems integrator and manufacturer of military aircraft, defense electronics, precision weapons, commercial and military aerostructures’

MICROSOFT’S OGILVY QUOTE FACTOR: 6

(3) GOOGLE’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS:
Dr. Eric Schmidt, Chairman & CEO, Google
Sergey Brin, Co-Founder & President of Technology, Google
Larry Page, Co-Founder, Google
John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers*
Ram Shriram, Sherpalo**
John Hennessy, President, Stanford University
Arthur Levinson, Chairman & CEO, Genentech
Paul Otellini, President & CEO, Intel
Shirley M. Tilghman, President, Princeton University
Ann Mather, Director, Board of Central European Media Enterprises, former EVP & CFO, Pixar

Like Microsoft, two members of Google’s board are employed by colleges/universities, but while Microsoft’s Cash & Gilmartin are/were focused on developing the minds of 18-30 year old future business leaders, in Hennessy & Tilghman Google has the experience of two individuals running universities with endowments of $17.2 billion and $15.8 billion, respectively, and pondering this paragraph from the New York Times article “Google Gets Ready to Rumble with Microsoft”:

“Yet small and midsize companies, as well as universities and individuals, in other words, a majority of computer users, could shift toward Web-based cloud computing fairly quickly, Mr. Schmidt contends. Small businesses, he says, could greatly reduce their costs and technology headaches by adopting the Web offerings now available from Google and others.”

*John Doerr (VC & director for Compaq, Netscape, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, Amazon.com, and Google, as well as Friendster, Go.com and myCFO)
**Ram Shriram (Officer at Amazon during their formative years, starting in 1998; also serves on the boards of Plaxo, Zazzle and PodShow)

GOOGLE’S OGILVY QUOTE FACTOR: 9

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