By Brian Morrissey
Hollywood exec Lloyd Braun had a memorable run as content impresario at Yahoo! from 2004 to 2006. When he was hired, he was heralded as the marriage of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. His short tenure ended up being a cameo in the long slide suffered by Yahoo! Braun came in promising the I Love Lucy of the Web and ended up leaving after internal backbiting, including a memorable profile that claimed he tried to get the company to give him a plane and berated a gift-store employee over an umbrella. Braun recounted a couple of his own stories from Yahoo! on
Tuesday, not surprisingly painting himself in a more positive light.
Taking the stage in an Advertising Week panel put on by Yahoo! rival Microsoft, Braun noted how he was “king of the stupid questions” in his first few months at Yahoo!, when he knew very little about the Web and technology. Ah, but wisdom does come from the mouths of babes! Seeing the design for a new Yahoo! site, Braun innocently asked why the page had a border. He was met with blank stares, in his telling, and the explanation, “That’s the way we always do it.” Braun told the story as a parable of how the Web hasn’t thought very hard about design. It is tantamount, he said, to “24 deciding to only use the middle of the TV screen. I said to myself, ‘That’s where the bar is? They don’t know we should fill the entire screen?’ “
Braun naturally pooh-poohed the notion that he was settling scores, noting that the critique applied to most Internet sites and portals that were designed in the 1990s. When Braun eventually found out that Yahoo!’s page design was because of monitor-resolution issues, he gave another of his “stupid questions”: “Don’t we have a super-duper monitor-sniffer thingie?”