Wired has published an interesting article - I suppose it has the story has all the potential to be used in future MBA courses that focus on change and/or technology - "How Yahoo Blew It", and how Yahoo answers to the article. What I find the most amusing is the closing statement: "But now we have empirical evidence: At Yahoo, the marketers rule, and at Google the engineers rule."
I think the statement can be expanded ... it is not "marketers" that rule, it is most probably a group of people that understand business but lack the knowledge of technology (i.e. what is there and where are we going?) - This is a more general statement, not specific to yahoo, as this is the kind of thing that you hear in companies all over -. One of the most common cycles of "growing pains" is when the start-up mentality is over thrown by the "businessmen", core knowledge moves on to greener pastures, new management comes and faces the void of "what is there, and how to move to the next stage"; think of the analogy of a sports team, the 90's Chicago Bulls was in a start up position to build a franchise, keeping the engine well oiled they created history, Michael Jordan was at the 'center' - is it true that no single person is irreplaceable? Tell that to a guy that still generates more revenue than most of "Corporate America" :) -. But always remember, it was a team with A & B players - not all were super stars (think "Los Galacticos" failure in Real Madrid!) . I believe that Google managed - smartly- to avoid this stage, by having equilibrium between "mature" and "start up" management, they shift gears faster than any one else in the market. Google has a "Michael Jordan" somewhere - be it a team or a concept - that allows for the winning attitude to remain at the top of the curve. (I still yet to know if Google's criteria for recruitment has A & B players focused around other aspects, they seem to recruit technical A players across the board ... so there should be another aspect(s) that categorises employees).
Now ... you can also see how Microsoft is gathering their own "Wilt Chamberlain" team, just have a look at the recent hire of Donald Ferguson to be a member of Ray Ozzie's team ...
It is a shame that as opposed to Basketball, corporate competition is a much slower game, much like a slow motion chess!, we will know the results not before the next 5 years (optimistic!) ... and many other players might yet be incubated that can change the balance in any direction!
PS: Overall, Microsoft, Google & Yahoo have enormous market values, and this is just evaluating an aspect (mainly technology and how it integrates into the business). But, today (17th of Jan'07) Yahoo has a market value just over 1/3 of that of Google, Google has also just over 1/3 of the market value of Microsoft ... (Yahoo is obviously 1/9th of Microsoft).