Can Joe Walsh Become the “Steve Jobs of Local”?
December 5, 2014 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
I don’t know Joe Walsh very well. I have however spoken to him in person and on the phone a number of times over the past several years. He has always impressed me as a thoughtful person; recently even more so.
I interviewed Walsh twice recently in the context of writing the report Local Media Sales 2020: Platforms, Profits or People? After departing Hibu/Yellowbook last year, he became an investor and advisor.
During my interviews with him, Walsh and I spoke about a wide range of issues confronting traditional media publishers and the local market generally. He impressed me with his first-hand knowledge of the SMB advertiser space and current technology tools.
When I heard about Joe Walsh’s appointment to the CEO job at Dex, the Steve Jobs analogy struck me. I realize it’s potentially grandiose but there may be a fair parallel. It remains to be seen whether Walsh can accelerate digital momentum at Dex. He’s dealing with some “structural” issues that are very challenging.
However I make comparison because Steve Jobs’ time away from Apple proved critical in his and Apple’s comeback. Most would argue that Jobs matured as an executive during the years away from Apple and his new perspective allowed him to be a better CEO. He says as much in his terrific Stanford Commencement address.
Walsh has only been away from a directory leadership role for a year — not the decade Steve Jobs spent away from Apple. However that time away and the “learnings” as an investor and advisor no doubt have given Walsh new perspective he would not otherwise have had if he had remained at Yellowbook.
Joe Walsh is a well respected figure in the industry and among the employee rank and file. I’m very interested to hear him articulate his vision for the company and see what he can do. I hope the Steve Jobs analogy proves to be accurate.