Home / Business / CEO Marissa Mayer Treated Yahoo Like A Think Tank, Not A Sinking Ship

CEO Marissa Mayer Treated Yahoo Like A Think Tank, Not A Sinking Ship

Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers a keynote residence during a 2014 International CES in Las Vegas in 2014.i

Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers a keynote residence during a 2014 International CES in Las Vegas in 2014.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers a keynote residence during a 2014 International CES in Las Vegas in 2014.

Yahoo President and CEO Marissa Mayer delivers a keynote residence during a 2014 International CES in Las Vegas in 2014.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Marissa Mayer will go down in story as a final CEO of Yahoo. The good Internet colonize is carrying a core business auctioned off to Verizon. When Mayer came on house 4 years ago, Yahoo was in a critical, make-or-break moment. It indispensable a wilful leader.

But in interviews with Mayer and people who worked with her, a opposite law emerges: The CEO treated Yahoo some-more like a consider tank than a falling ship.

A fishing expedition

After deliberation other offers, Yahoo concluded to be acquired by Verizon for $4.8 billion.

Consider a context: Yahoo had usually been by 4 CEOs in as many years. The house was impatient. And, as Mayer tells it, she spent her initial 6 months “really listening” — many to a warn of her staff.

“When we initial showed adult during a association — my initial day — everybody said, ‘OK, so we’re going to get we prepared for your all-hands tomorrow. So we can come in and we can do a vast dog and hack show, betray your strategy.’ “

“All hands” being a assembly where she’d residence Yahoo’s 14,000 employees.

Mayer pushed back. “I said, ‘you know, with all due respect, I’m not going to do a devise display tomorrow. we have some extended brushstrokes of devise around things like mobile being unequivocally vicious — though we unequivocally wish to listen.’ “

When Mayer joined Yahoo, posters of her ornate a walls — in a iconic wish impression (a la President Obama). In a cafeteria, she remembers this one worker walked adult to her, tray in hand, and said: “Is it go time? Is it time to go?”

Marissa Mayer left Google to spin a CEO of Yahoo. She was Google's 20th sinecure and is obliged for a demeanour and feel of many of Google's vital products.

Her eyes shot open. So many people had quit or been dismissed by a time she got there.

She told him, “Oh no! Please, greatfully don’t go. I’ve usually been here for 3 days. Give me a chance! Like, we’re going to try and work out something engaging here.”

The worker shook his conduct and told her, “No, no, no. You misunderstand.”

What he meant was: go get to work! He had ideas. He was sleepy of watchful for government to figure themselves out.

This was song to Mayer’s ears. To this day, she reads a resume of any chairman Yahoo considers employing (that can be 50 a week) — and she has to OK any and any one. She says her pursuit is to collect clever players, and afterwards mislay obstacles so they can do their thing.

She told a cafeteria guy: “Look, I’m going to try and hit things down. But yes, by all means, go! Run! Do your ideas.”

And Mayer desired ideas. Collecting them, scrutinizing them. Years ago, San Francisco repository reported that, to make cupcakes, she bought several cookbooks, put a mixture in a spreadsheet, and tested recipes before eventually essay her own.

Potential buyers are due to contention bids for Yahoo's core Internet business on Monday.

It sounds like she did a chronicle of that with Yahoo, too: a CEO Challenge, her callout to employees to contention innovative ideas.

She suspicion maybe she would get 40 ideas. She got 700.

That is a whole lot of proposals to review — and apportion doesn’t equal quality. Asked possibly any one suspicion could spin into a billion-dollar business, she says, “No, though that wasn’t unequivocally what a CEO plea was about.”

Mayer didn’t discuss a winner: turns out it was a lawyer on Yahoo’s obvious team who due that Yahoo make income by offered patents — that is what it already does. And his prize: a Tesla (the oppulance car). His co-workers were baffled: What accurately is Mayer rewarding?

Being No. 1 again

Some are lustful of observant Yahoo’s genocide (or auctioning off) was inevitable. It was not, according to former employees.

“In 2012, we consider things were many some-more salvageable,” says Shashi Seth. He supervised several hundred people during Yahoo, reported directly to Mayer, and worked with her behind during Google.

It was a outrageous understanding for struggling Yahoo to land Mayer, Google’s 20th employee. By his and others’ accounts, Seth was vehement and optimistic. He was also painful to ascent dual products: mail and a home page. They done a lot of money, yet, in his opinion, “these were a dual many abandoned products opposite a company.”

Marissa Ann Mayer gestures as she gives an talk in Jan of 2008.

While Seth left 6 months into Mayer’s tenure, his take is unchanging with people who stayed distant longer.

Yahoo Mail was so bad that, when we wanted to insert a file, it would ask a doubt that no complicated user should have had to answer: Do we have a vast record or a tiny file?

“Nobody else asks we that question,” Seth points out.

He says Mayer didn’t come in with a devise to make Yahoo Mail No. 1 (or anything No. 1, for that matter). Other comparison employees contend she didn’t woo a vast advertisers on Madison Avenue and remonstrate them: “Hey, a information is awesome. We know who Yahoo users are, what they read. We can aim ads improved than Google or Facebook can.”

According to former employees, Mayer got held adult micromanaging tiny things like Yahoo’s award-winning continue app.

Still, Seth says, “Yahoo Weather was never going to save a company. Right? we don’t caring how good we done Yahoo Weather, it wasn’t going to save a company.”

Fun doesn’t compensate a bills

Seth has a theory: Yahoo could’ve done a quip if Mayer focused on one or dual communication tools, contend email or a messaging app like WhatsApp (which, by a way, was combined by Yahoo talent, usually to finish adult acquired by Facebook).

Instead, he says, a CEO threw time she didn’t have into a partial of a business that’s fun, though will never spin a profit: media content.

The strange heading of this print read: The Netscape Navigator home page on a Internet's World Wide Web is seen Wednesday, Aug. 9, 1995.

Media is glitzy and glamorous. Under Mayer, Yahoo announced a employing of dear TV horde Katie Couric. Yahoo launched magazines. Yahoo landed an disdainful understanding to tide clips of Saturday Night Live.

In a unequivocally buzzworthy performance, Mayer was on theatre with SNL talent during a 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show — a mega tech event. Comedian Kenan Thompson, personification a Rev. Al Sharpton, joked with her:

“Thank we Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yoo-hoo, for carrying me,” he said, in character. “Who would have suspicion that a tiny chocolate divert association like Yoo-hoo could spin into one of a world’s biggest tech giants? It’s amazing!”

SNL was never going to save Yahoo either.

In response to these criticisms, Mayer says she did refurbish a home page, she built a mobile group Yahoo never had before, and users wish good media content.


It’s surprising in Silicon Valley for people to impugn a personality publicly. Of a former employees NPR interviewed, Shashi Seth (who was not a many critical) was a usually one who concluded to go on a record. Asked why, he talks about Yahoo nostalgically.

“It’s one of those companies that is iconic and defines Silicon Valley, defines a Internet,” he says, “And it’s a contrition since a lot of people put a lot of blood, persperate and tears into it, and other than relations with some good people, didn’t get many for it.”

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang during a 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Yahoo will benefit scarcely $8 billion from a Alibaba IPO since of a $1 billion investment in Alibaba 2005.

Mayer will get a lot for it. She has not pronounced possibly she is fasten Verizon after a understanding closes. we ask her if she’ll get paid her separation possibly way.

“I’ll be honest, I’ve never unequivocally looked during it. So I’m happier to indicate to a tangible filings,” she says.

The CEO who reads a resume of any hire, who review hundreds of CEO plea proposals — she says she doesn’t know. She’s somehow missed that detail.

The answer is: She does not have to join to get a money, $54.8 million.


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