The response pretty much validates all of your worst suspicions about the executive mentality at Yahoo.
"But what about Panama?" you ask. Sure, our timeline for Project Panama took longer than we had anticipated, but it's live now and we're very excited about it and the early feedback we're receiving. Most people outside of Yahoo! aren't aware of the tremendous - in fact, heroic - effort that has taken place in our search advertising business over the past 18 months. Engineers and technologists from throughout Yahoo! aligned to build the colossal "brain" that powers our new platform and will allow us to innovate in search marketing more rapidly than ever before.
That response is one of the saddest, most pathetic things I've ever heard from a company. It worries me that they are rationalizing the whole thing so much. "Sure it was 2 years late, and cost us well over $2B in lost revenue, while our stock languished, but it was really hard, and we were trying so tremendously heroically all the time... blah, blah, blah."
BTW, The Wired article went for the kill on Semel by claiming that he never really could grasp technology. Wouldn't having your press flack use the term colossal "brain" to describe your ad market software kinda reinforce that view?
Besides, I use Panama everyday, and it ain't all that. It's simply not as good as Adwords. And no UI will make up for the inventory advantage that Google has. Panama certainly doesn't put Yahoo at parity with Google in the ad battle.
In fact, if you refer back to Semel's earnings calls, you can find this angry denial / rationalization trend emanating from top execs at Yahoo. I think they really are smoking their own stash over there.
Negative press notwithstanding, Yahoo! remains a leading force on the Internet. We continue to grow at a pace (20% from Q3'05 to Q3'06!) that far exceeds that of many leading Internet and blue-chip brands.
When your corp. comm team is whinging about "negative press", something is very wrong.
This whole cocoon mentality is all very hollywood / political, and I continue to blame it on Semel!