De Castro FiredThe press is buzzing this morning about Henrique De Castro’s sudden departure from Yahoo. Marissa Meyer’s first major hire has become a major FAIL.

“Not a fit.” That’s not an explanation. “Didn’t make his numbers.” That’s an outcome, not a reason. What we have here is a fundamental failure to hire for breadth and depth of relationships on the part of Meyer, and a fundamental failure to master Relationship Economics by De Castro, a graduate of two prestigious European business schools and senior positions at Google, Dell Western Europe, and McKinsey & Company; a fine pedigree indeed but apparently strategic relationships were not on the curriculum.

As a student of business relationships for the past two decades, here is my advice on Meyer and De Castro that may be relevant to both you as the hiring executive but also executives joining new teams:

Henrique: when the press calls you “academic” and “a douche”—FIX IT. (Business Insider, Oct 16, 2012.) You had plenty of time. What have you done in the last year to improve key relationships within and external to Yahoo? How did you intentionally, strategically, quantifiably invest in key relationships instrumental to your success? How did you measure you strategic relationship plan (if you had one to begin with) and make necessary course correction along the way? At this level of your career, you surely understand that your educational foundation and professional pedigree alone won’t suffice; you must master the ability to engage and influence others, often without authority – even though you had a great deal of authority in this role!

Marissa: kudos for diversifying the senior leadership ranks with a European executive. If Yahoo is to be taken seriously as a global player, male, pale, and stale won’t get you there. The diversity of thought and perspectives often shed new lights on market opportunities. However, did you really fall asleep at the wheel when it came to managing De Castro’s on-boarding adequately, or providing the relational support needed within or external to Yahoo when his efforts demonstrated less than stellar results? Strategic relationships are the medium through which leaders lead. Did you fail to model that for De Salvo and in the process dilute your credibility for sourcing and retaining exceptional talent?

Since De Castro was hired to fix advertising agency relationships, it’s a particularly pernicious and pervasive failing that, once his weakness in this area became apparent, you did not step up to help him improve his skills or behavior. You must have had some awareness of his shortcomings in this area from your tenure together at Google. The missed opportunity in enhancing this growing edge of personal development for both of you is one of the sad outcomes of this situation.

Relationship Economics® is the art and science of business relationships. It is about quantifiable investments and ROI. The tech industry is eager to see Yahoo execute a case-study-worthy return to competitive excellence. What we’re neglecting to see, discuss, measure is the relationship development skills, behavior, and trends in this turnaround opportunity.

Nour Takeaways

  1. “Not a fit” and a check for $60 million are intellectually lazy and fiscally irresponsible;
  2. Avoid both by prioritizing the curiosity and integrate strategic relationship development willingness, skills and behavior in the recruiting and development process – from the senior staff down to the front line contributors;
  3. Regardless of what industry you think you’re in, we’re all fundamentally in the relationship business!


Nour4212-webresDavid Nour is an enterprise growth strategist and the thought leader on Relationship Economics® – the quantifiable value of business relationships. In a global economy that is becoming increasingly disconnected, The Nour Group, Inc. has attracted consulting engagements from over 100 marquee organizations in driving unprecedented growth through unique return on their strategic relationships. Nour has pioneered the phenomenon that relationships are the greatest off balance sheet asset any organizations possesses, large and small, public and private. He is the author of several books including the best selling Relationship Economics – Revised (Wiley), ConnectAbility (McGraw-Hill), The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Raising Capital (Praeger) and Return on Impact—Leadership Strategies for the age of Connected Relationships (ASAE). Learn more at

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn