Forbes’ Folly = Future Faux
The current issue of Forbes denotes a hallmark event in my view [not necessarily just for good reasons], and it is one I cannot let by without some MindOnMedia[Sales] observations. Between the confluence of articles on two female powerhouses in the Online world, Forbes’ ‘Top 100 Most Powerful Women List’, and the publisher’s burgeoning efforts in Broadcast; it is all too much to pass up.
On the one hand, I greatly enjoyed the in-depth articles on both Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and Carol Bartz, now heading Yahoo! I am not privileged to know either talented woman. On the other hand, after reading the two articles, and then seeing the ‘Top 100′ list, the amazement began. According to Forbes, Ms Sandberg, now sitting atop what is arguably the most influential, powerful site on the Web [her prior firm Google aside], doesn’t make the Top 100. That’s right; she was dissed. Amazing.
Ms Bartz, while having achieved great success at AutoDesk, has [by most accounts] already stumbled badly at Yahoo!. Yet she is #12 on that same List. Now granted, it is likely that neither of them actually care about this. Should we?
The Top 100 selection process is mystifying for any number of reasons, and I find Forbes’ analysis here incomplete. Yes, Ms Bartz is CEO, to Ms Sandberg’s COO spot. However, the DEFINING element for me is revenue, and the potential going forward in generating revenue.
By that criteria, it is no contest. Ms Bartz sold out Yahoo!’s Search biz to Microsoft. And while the deal may have ‘carry forward’ value [even HUGE ‘carry forward’ value], she has cost her investor’s billions with this sale. She also told everyone when she came on board that Search would go for ‘Buckets of money’, or similar words. So she has already failed to live up to her own words, lied to her investors [more or less] shoving the stock price down, again, AND cost them billions. Yet she is not fired on the spot, as she herself loves to do. Maybe she should have been.
More, she talks in the article about ‘future this’, and ‘potential audience growth that’, and it all sounds like the excuses of the hundreds she has fired over the years. The important point: This is all conditional, and dependent on a LOT of variables. Not very reassuring to me. So again, a #12 spot for that?
Now in Ms Sandberg’s case, we see a dramatically different picture. Facebook is the leader with huge traffic that is only growing. She has architected a revenue picture already, that can emerge in any number of ways, from a variety of sources. Brilliant. True, there are stumbles on the way, and major issues to resolve [becoming profitable key among them.]
But Ms Sandberg’s is sitting on CHOICES [a lot of them] to grow revenue NOW, basically; it’s just a matter of time in choosing. For Ms Bartz, it is less about choices, and much more about CONDITIONS she is dependent on to [maybe] grow revenue. While Ms Bartz may have turned AutoDesk in 3 years into a powerhouse…she doesn’t remotely have 3 years here. 3 months maybe, especially after the goofy sale of the Search biz.
The distinction here is clear, dramatic…and unacceptable that Forbes did not factor it in. BOTH women should rightfully be on such a List as this.
Of course, Forbes has its own Old Media issues these days, and is busy looking at diversifying their own Revenue base. Perhaps a higher level of analysis was waylaid by a focus on the upcoming production Forbes is doing with E! Channel…on the Media Empire of…Michael Jackson. Is more attention on catchy ‘Lists’ that get widely quoted & sent all over the web, and a bunch of low-level shows on E!, taking the place of the reporting rigor that made Forbes famous? Has it come to that? Give me Jim Grant’s articles on gold & inflation any day, please.
So, an iffy Top 100 List, a deceased Pop star’s show on TV [sure to be a ratings grabber], and some investors of their own that are not happy.
I would say that Forbes’ current Folly does indeed equate to a Faux Future. Can they find any other? Hope so.
PS> Normally I would avoid directly addressing the workings of a firm I have been associated with, in a public venue as this [Disclosure: I spent several months at the Forbes autos site prior to its being shut down in 2008.] Having done this, it should be noted that I am addressing the current, published work of the firm, and not actual, internal issues within this or any company, an important distinction.
~ by MindOnMediaSales on August 30, 2009.