Holding On To Our Lunch Money

In the movie "Meatballs," Chris Makepeace was the child actor with child actor hair running alongside Bill Murray. After sporting those running shorts (recently brought back by Michael Cera in "Juno") Makepeace played a similar character of an underdog misfit in another 80's cult movie called "My Bodyguard."

In it he played Clifford Peach, the new kid in school who gets accosted by the school bully, named Melvin Moody, who demands Clifford's lunch money in return for protection from Moody's fists. Clifford decides to hire his own bodyguard, a tall lanky loner named Lindeman, rather than give in to the demands of the school bully. Do you remember this movie? If you do, do you remember who played the role of Melvin Moody?

This movie resonated for many (it was Matt Dillon) because it captured our world at that age where the pressures of traveling from our desks to our lockers felt insurmountable. It was at this time in our lives where we first encountered and feared the bully -- the person who used brute strength and a misguided sense of what was right for him, regardless of how wrong it was for others, to obtain what he coveted but could not create.



I can't help but feel very badly for Jerry Yang these days. I don't know him -- but I'd bet he wasn't a bully growing up, but rather a prime target for one. He was probably one of those students who went unnoticed and was so unnerved by the capacity of his own brain that he "dumbed down" to fit in. I don't know Steve Ballmer, either -- but I can't look at pictures of him and not see the face of a bully.

It was Yang (with David Filo) we have to thank for where we are as an industry today. Sure there were others who put their oars in the water, but it was Yahoo that steered the ship. It wasn't Apple or IBM, it wasn't AOL or Alta Vista, and it certainly wasn't Microsoft who had the vision back then to see what we look at today. It was Yang and team that posed the question "Do you Yahoo!" and it is Yahoo that deserves its own wing in the Internet Advertising Publisher Hall of Fame -- and not a chair under the Microsoft umbrella.

I don't know nearly enough about shareholder rights and hostile takeovers to understand why all this is occurring. And is it happening because the expectations set by those not in the industry of advertising, are not being met or exceeded? Yahoo earns quite a bit of money selling ads online. Why should it have to hand over any -- and in this case, all of it -- to Melvin Moody?

Microsoft's Ballmer claims acquiring Yahoo is his rendering of the big picture. A picture is as big as the length of your perspective, and Ballmer sees innovation as his right to acquire -- while the quiet eyes of Jerry Yang sees another battle he likely endured during his youth, one he figured out how to win with his brain, not his brawn.

Yahoo losing its independence against its will feels like a shakedown in the boy's bathroom. I hope Yang and Yahoo figure out how to hold onto their lunch money. Giving it up to a bully hurts us all in some way.

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