On The Breaking Of Shit

“If Yahoo was going to become a true digital news brand, it would have to go on a major innovation binge — it’d have to start ‘breaking shit,’ in other words. One senior news executive exulted that Yahoo News was in the most enviable position that any media company could be — it was a startup, he’d intone, that already had the largest readership on the web. This, too, was classic Yahoo corporate boilerplate: it sounded vaguely pulse-pounding when shouted above a PowerPoint stream, but on closer examination, it made no sense whatsoever. Precisely because it already commanded the largest readership, Yahoo couldn’t be a startup. Startups thrive on investor bets made on the promise of future profitability and, over the course of their initial runs, are case studies in capital destruction; far from ascending to Yahoo-scale market dominance, they’re expected to rapidly burn through their initial investment stakes en route to attracting more and bigger investors. For Yahoo to be a genuine startup, it would have to utterly fail at being Yahoo.”
— This dispatch from Awl pal Chris Lehmann on his time at Yahoo makes one shudder at the way the Internet used to be. Thank God everything’s different now.