I predicted 2 years ago when we left Scripps that Deanna Brown, who was newly-hired to run the online sites, that she’d leave in 2 years. I was wrong, she lasted 6 months longer than that. It wasn’t hard to predict, her resume is one failed 2-year stint after another. We even asked her about it when it was her job to convince us to sell Recipezaar to them. We asked her point-blank: “You seem to job hop a lot, how long are you going to stay at Scripps?”. Her answer was that she has nowhere else to go so she’ll be at Scripps for a long time.
She was wrong that she’d be at Scripps for a long time, but she was right that she has nowhere else to go. So she went to Federated Media. Federated Media is a loser in a sea of ad sales losers. To put it in perspective, when we ran Recipezaar we had ad sales companies contacting us constantly to let them run their ads on our site. Federated Media never called because their focus at the time was on blogs (that wasn’t a good idea when blogs were the New Thing), but had they contacted us we wouldn’t even have bothered to return their call. That’s how big a loser this company was then. I was surprised to hear that they’re still around today. And Deanna Brown couldn’t even get the CEO job that they were interviewing for, she took the COO job. I can’t imagine a worse job for Deanna than a COO. COOs need to be very organized, willing to listen to people and change directions when things aren’t working. Deanna needs to be the center of attention, COOs need to be invisible and have no ego.
I love this because we did not get along with Deanna at Scripps. We used to call her “Hurricane Deanna” because she would come in and speed talk about nonsense as if you weren’t there, and leave as quickly as she came. It was like a hurricane just hit. She loved it, she even bragged to her friend that we called her “Hurricane Deanna” as if it was a compliment that she was chaotic.
While under Deanna, FoodNetwork.com has lost its #1 position in the industry and is neck-and-neck with AllRecipes. They bought Recipezaar to compete with AllRecipes and the combination of FoodNetwork.com + Recipezaar.com should have been easy to manage: listen to users, improve the site, repeat. But Deanna ignored Recipezaar because she personally didn’t like Recipezaar’s audience — it wasn’t upscale enough for her. The only thing she did was hire her friends, who happened to be half-assed web designers, to do a terrible redesign of the site that they are still recovering from almost two years later.
Deanna’s problem is that she talks but never listens — there’s no such thing as a conversation with Deanna. She talks, you listen. She may be deaf, for all I know. If she engaged other people and learned from them, she’d be much more effective manager and she’d be able to build more successful products.
Deanna’s other problem is that she has tons of ideas (some may even be her own ideas), some good and some bad, but it doesn’t matter because she just can’t execute on them. She can’t execute on them because her knowledge is so superficial that she doesn’t know where to start or how to determine if it’s done properly. Because she can’t talk with people to learn, diagnose and fix problems, nothing happens.
Deanna has had five jobs since 2000. I’ve had only 4 jobs (Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, Phoenix Systems/Corporate Software, Microsoft and Recipezaar) in my 19-year career. Deanna changes jobs more often than I buy new shoes! How people like Deanna can get hired with a resume that shows no success, is a habitual quitter and clearly leaves jobs just before she’s fired is beyond me. You gotta be a real dummy to hire her. Sorry, John Battelle, you is a dummy.
New Prediction: Deanna will leave Federated Media in 2 years. I should buy a new pair of shoes to see which last longer.