Chief Operating Officer, Yahoo
Daniel Rosensweig, 43, was president at CNET Networks three years ago when he was recruited to join Yahoo. Now he heads product development, marketing and ad sales, and international and North American operations for the Internet giant. Here, he discusses the importance of having fun, the limits of cubicle life, and learning to yodel.
It’s very clear that people are always willing to pay for things of value to them.
In our business, you must separate the bubble of the stock market and the constant drumbeat of users toward the Internet. At first, both those things were in sync, then they diverged during the bubble. The market went down, but users kept growing and growing and growing.
There’s really this wonderful sense that once you’re a Yahoo, no matter how you got here, you’re a Yahoo. That’s been a big help to growing the company as rapidly as we have.
My favorite part of the job is watching great people see their dreams realized. To watch somebody come up with an idea, execute it, and then see users really get value out of it is just an amazing feeling.
No matter how well you decorate a cubicle, it’s still a cubicle. But my cubicle is between [CEO] Terry Semel’s and [cofounder] Jerry Yang’s. Talk about location, location, location.
We look for really smart people who have tremendous passion, great conviction and courage, and a little bit of willingness to go out there and take a risk, because when you’re working in an industry that is evolving so rapidly, no one person has the right answer for anything.
The most overrated part of the job is the coffee, the foosball, and the beach volleyball court, because I don’t drink coffee and I don’t play those sports.
With a clear vision and strong leadership, you can make almost anything happen.
From the outside, my guess is most people think about the incredible technology we have. But what really matters is our people.
What is very difficult to understand, if you’re not doing it, is the blending of experience, technology, and making acquisitions, when your business is reaching nearly 300 million people in 25 languages and is open 24-7 and where every user has an expectation that the product is built specifically for them. I don’t think people understand how complex that is. The better we do our job, the less people will understand. And that’s a good thing.
We need to be able to embrace how big the opportunity really is. After we embrace it, we’ve got to make the tough choices on which of those opportunities we’re going to go for first. And then we have to be disciplined in making sure that we’re focused on the things we’ve picked and execute them before taking on something else.
The biggest challenge is, when you’re given an opportunity like this, how do you give it everything you have because it deserves it, and also recognize and appreciate that the most important things in your life are your wife and daughters. I’m envious of people who have been able to find better balance.
Time is the only luxury left in the world, and I do my best not to waste much.
Do the things that matter most to you. If you don’t love it, it’s not worth it.
I never thought I was going to do something meaningless. I grew up the son of a teacher. I think that always inspired me to want to do right. The other thing, of course, is in thinking of the Yahoo heritage, I’m certain I never thought I would learn how to yodel.
It would be boring to know what you’re going to be five years from now.