In case you haven’t heard, Yahoo! is suing Facebook.
They are alleging that Facebook violated ten different patents.
If I read the patterns correctly, this might be the fourth stage of the downward spiral that Jim Collins wrote about in How the Mighty Fall, which Collins dubs “Grasping for Salvation.” Randi Zuckerberg seems to agree based on her Twitter commentary (although her opinion just might be slightly biased!)
I’ve been wondering about the viability of Yahoo’s business model for quite some time now. They’ve been trying to do a little bit of everything for years. Their search engine/portal was mediocre in the beginning (although I thought they were better than Altavista in the days before Google).
It seems like engaging the legal system is a specific kind of desperation, not entirely unlike what RIAA did when Napster was all the rage. They attempted to develop a new revenue stream through litigation, rather than face the plain fact that their business model was broken.
When was the last time a struggling enterprise successfully sued its way back to prosperity?
By contrast, look at what Apple did around the end of the 1990′s when Steve Jobs took over as CEO. They returned to what had made them great in the beginning: innovation. I think Yahoo needs to do something similar. The question is: are they willing to?
Unfortunately, it seems that most people don’t want to do the hard work of reinventing themselves or their enterprises. They just want to keep looking for a silver bullet that doesn’t exist. It looks to me like Yahoo is headed this way. I hope they turn around before it’s too late.