One of the external factors that I believe drained many yahoos during my time there was the constant bashing from analysts, press, bloggers etc. Internally I think it was reasonably obvious what problems existed but hearing it constantly from "the outside" lead to a lot internal navel gazing about what we could have done, should have done. Google was at the time the darling of the web and there was so much discussion about what Google was doing that a separate "what would google do" mailing list was setup.
So its interesting to read What Larry Page really needs to do to return Google to its startup roots. slacy's post is almost a perfect summary of the commonly raised issues at Yahoo! during my later years there (I was laid off in October 2008).
For example, languages like Python are shunned upon because they're "too slow for web frontends". Let teams use whatever tools and languages they want, and are most efficient in. Don't pass judgement on infrastructure, pass judgement on Products. If someone launches a great system based on Oracle and a bunch of Perl CGI scripts running on Sun Sparc 5′s, then you should praise them. If they're crushed under load, then praise them even more for their success.
pipes.yahoo.com was built in a way considered non-standard for Yahoo!. It went down almost immediately after launch and I remember Rasmus saying almost exactly the same as the quote above in response to the criticisms that the Yahoo! Pipes team received for launching on a non-standard platform.
Finally, one of my all-time favourites, from a comment on slacy's post:
Looking from the outside in, I think what Google currently looks most is: a coherent strategy and focus. Its products are all over the map and new products tend to be neglected after a while.
True or not, if I had a penny for every time I heard the same about Yahoo! ...
Overall, slacy's post makes me wonder if such organisational problems are inevitable no matter how bright the minds are, and no matter how well intentioned the people are. It sure will be interesting to see what changes Google will make over the next few years, and also how Facebook evolves as an organisation, being the current fast growing behemoth that's still pumping out some amazing technology & product.