Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


The only thing missing was Nero.

Even though the great fiddler wasn't around during Gatsby's day, you'd think from all the reports of Yahoo's Great Gatsby-themed holiday party that this was a classic case of Sunnyvale burning and everyone just wanting to listen to that lone violin.

Crisis? What crisis? Christmas? What Christmas?

Should you have no heard of these splendid festivities, Motherboard has a lovely depiction.

Here was an extremely pregnant Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer seated on a white chair behind velvet ropes. You could apparently approach her and ask very nicely to have a picture taken with her.

How can one criticize this?

Mayer is the Valley's Santa Claus, there to give out gifts to the kids who have been good (but not very good). Like the folks who run Tumblr, for example.

Motherboard's anonymous party attendee couldn't believe his or her eyes.

"How could something like this be sustainable, I wondered, especially for a down-on-its-luck company like Yahoo which, as we speak, is poised for a fire sale of epic proportions?" were Anonymous's words.

I imagine one way it was sustainable was that it was budgeted for.

And, given Yahoo's slightly parlous state -- its share price has dropped by 30 percent since January -- might there actually have been some wit in choosing a party theme from a period that loved its good times, but smelled disaster just around its corner?

Really, though, was it all that extravagant? Yes, it might have cost a couple of million, but corporations sometimes pay vast sums to have, say, Bob Dylan whine at their shindigs.

Instead, here was a cover band. A Canadian cover band. Hardly Coldplay, is it?

Moreover, are we supposed to be appalled by this sentence?: "All the booze was top shelf and no variety was left out. A burlesque troupe warmed up the crowd."

Do you really think Yahoo paid top dollar for top shelf booze? Might you not imagine that there'd been a little bartering going on here?

Hey, give us 100 cases of Ciroc and we'll give you some free banner ads on Yahoo Mail.

The venue was a warehouse in San Francisco's Dogpatch district. It wasn't AT&T Park or some tech mogul's house.

Was this truly such an extravagance? This was a feeding of the 10,000 after all.

So many business types, especially in these pages, like to talk about motivation, resilience, self-belief and rallying the troops.

Just how motivating would it have been had Mayer announced that the party would be at a local playground and would be BYOB?

That wouldn't have looked at all good in the eyes of, say, the editors at Vanity Fair.

So many wise heads are currently snorting at Yahoo and at Mayer's management. She should have done this. She should have done that.

But Yahoo's brand was already faded when she arrived. And those loud money men who placed her in the grand white chair might have considered whether Mayer had the talent and experience to understand what the brand really needed and how to make that brand loved and relevant again.

The party was fun while it lasted. Why begrudge Yahoo that?