Marissa Mayer

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Marissa MayerWhat's new in media world

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New CEO of Yahoo

Marissa Mayer - Yahoo News Search Results

Marissa Mayer Hates Purple and Cupcakes, Okay?

Being a company figurehead means holding your tongue and keeping a good face, even when certain aspects of your job might rub you the wrong way. If you prefer PCs, you probably shouldn't work at Apple. And if you skew goth, a job at Justice is probably out. And there are ... More »

Marissa Mayer sent 18 Yahoo employees on a free trip to Hawaii

Yahoo has made some progress since Marissa Mayer joined as CEO in July of 2012.  According to a new profile  by Fast Company's Harry McCracken, Mayer has set a new tone at the company by encouraging team members to get things done quickly and with limited oversight. In 2013, a group of 18 engineers was tasked with bringing Yahoo's native ad system up to speed. The group, which called itself ...

How Marissa Mayer Mobilized Yahoo

Almost three years in, Mayer's Yahoo is still a work in progress. But it's made real progress in reinventing itself for the smartphone era. "I joke that my son is about as old as my tenure here," says Marissa Mayer, the president and CEO of Yahoo. "He showed up when I was about eight weeks in. And I just have this vision that when he gets older, we're going to have these conversations where he's ...

Yahoo Shuffles Tumblr, Web-Video Leadership

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer is shuffling management again to bring new leadership to Tumblr and Web video, two areas where she has pushed for more growth.

Marissa Mayer on Yahoo's 20-Year Love Affair With The Color Purple

Yahoo doesn't just like purple. It bleeds it, and always has. Once upon a time, circa 1995, Yahoo cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo were setting up the company's first office. It was a pretty drab place, so they decided to redo the walls. Filo headed out to pick up some paint. Read Full Story

Biz Break: Yahoo shakes up management team, integrating Tumblr

Today: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer switches up her management team and brings Tumblr further into the Yahoo fold. Yahoo's senior management has been reshuffled by CEO Marissa Mayer, according to reports that say the Sunnyvale company revealed changes at the top to employees Friday morning.

Yahoo Shakeup: Marissa Mayer Promotes Simon Khalaf, Mike Kerns Out

Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer has made more significant changes within the executive ranks. As part of another high-level shakeup, Simon Khalaf will replace Mike Kerns as Yahoo home page boss. The newly named senior vice president will also be responsible for Yahoo’s themed portals including sports, movies and related apps, The New York Times wrote on Friday. Khalaf came to the media company as the ...

Marissa Mayer shuffles Yahoo leadership team

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's chief executive, announced a major reorganization of the company's product teams on Friday, promoting the head of one recently acquired company and effectively demoting the chief of another.

One of the first execs Marissa Mayer really trusted at Yahoo just quit the company (YHOO)

Mike Kerns, the Yahoo senior vice president in charge of Yahoo's homepage and other destinations, just quit the company, a source close to Kerns just told us. Earlier today, Kerns tweeted about leaving Yahoo.  He wrote, " fascinating five years...learned a lot and met/worked with great people.  Made a positive impact and can't wait to get to what's next." Kerns was a favorite of Yahoo CEO ...

Marissa Mayer's Facebook Wall

Marissa Mayer's Facebook Wall

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! The complete 38 year collection of skit...

Live from New York, it's Saturday Night! The complete 38 year collection of skits is coming soon to Yahoo!

Live from Yahoo! It’s Saturday Night!
By Marissa Mayer, CEO Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, or Tina Fey as Sarah Palin? As a lifelong Saturday Night Live fan, it is nearly impossible for me to pick my favorite skit. And, as a fan, I couldn’t be more … Continue reading →

Posted on 25 April 2013

Also expanding in Lockport, New York - a new data center, a new customer care ce...

Also expanding in Lockport, New York - a new data center, a new customer care center, & 115 new jobs:

Yahoo! Announces Plans to Expand in Lockport, New York
SUNNYVALE, Calif., Mar 21, 2013 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Yahoo! /quotes/zigman/59898/quotes/nls/yhooYHOO+3.21% today announced plans to build new data and customer care centers in Lockport, New York later this year. Yahoo!'s expansion in Western New York will provide additional capacity and world-class cu...

Posted on 21 March 2013

Announcing Yahoo! On The Road! I'll be heading home to WI (Madison) on May 13th....

Announcing Yahoo! On The Road! I'll be heading home to WI (Madison) on May 13th. When will we be in your town?

On the Road with Yahoo! | Summer Concerts and More
Watch summer concerts and funny celebrity videos with On the Road, from Yahoo! From all over the US and Europe, Yahoo! will showcase the daily habits of web users everywhere and host a lot of cool events in between. Come by daily to check out hidden camera pranks with a ton of celebrities, cool conc...

Posted on 13 March 2013

Celebrate Robert Moog's 78th Birthday with Google Doodle.

Celebrate Robert Moog's 78th Birthday with Google Doodle.

Search the world's information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you're looking for.

Posted on 22 May 2012

Google celebrates Gideon Sundback's Birthday!

Google celebrates Gideon Sundback's Birthday!

Search the world's information, including webpages, images, videos and more. Google has many special features to help you find exactly what you're looking for.

Posted on 23 April 2012

Celebrate Earth Day, every day!

Celebrate Earth Day, every day!

Earth Day – Google
This year for Earth Day, Google will be greening our own backyard by partnering with Friends of the Urban Forest to plant trees at schools in San Francisco.

Posted on 22 April 2012

Check out the eco-tastemaking of Randi Zuckerberg on LovingEco!

Check out the eco-tastemaking of Randi Zuckerberg on LovingEco!

Tastemaker Picks: Randi Zuckerberg
I love Juice Beauty's natural skincare line which leaves my skin feeling so clean and fresh. As a woman on the go, I love the simple yet chic everyday eco-conscious clothes from Amour Vert. And, I am so excited to share this exclusive Novica wrap quartz bracelet which benefits PSI's work improving l...

Posted on 10 January 2012


recent bookmarks tagged Marissa%20Mayer

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO

Posted on 12 March 2013

Neue Yahoo-Chefin: USA sind Europa bei Gleichberechtigung weit voraus - Nachrichten Wirtschaft - Webwelt & Technik - WELT ONLINE

Posted on 23 July 2012

Marissa Mayer | Can Women Still Argue That there is a Glass Ceiling?

Posted on 20 July 2012

Marissa Mayer, Media Darling - The Daily Beast

Posted on 17 July 2012

Marissa Mayor Prefers Purple Colors

Posted on 17 July 2012

Top Answers About Marissa Mayer on Quora

Top Answers About Marissa Mayer

What do Marc Bodnick, Jeff Nelson and Jimmy Wales think of Marissa Mayer (and the future of Yahoo!)?

It's a very impressive accomplishment for Marissa Mayer to be named as CEO of one of the oldest and most successful Internet companies. I suppose that most speaks to the amount of trust and respect she achieved at Google.

It might also suggest that Yahoo is attempting to position themselves for a Google acquisition. When key people are named to executive positions, it's often a strategic decision to make the company more attractive for M&A.

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Posted on 23 February 2015

How many hours of sleep do the CEOs and Chairpersons of top technology companies get in a 24-hours-period?

My Grandfather was the Chairman & CEO of the 11 largest Australian company. (He was also a founder). In addition he owed his own group of profitable companies. 
When he was not travelling overseas to sign or negotiate deals,
he slept 8 hrs a night. He set aside time to exercise. And allocated a good part of Sunday to be with his family. 
   He believed that Time Management & good personal organisation skills were critical. He was not impressed by "Hero's" that worked long hours. He felt it showed they were disorganized & failed to manage their time well. It was also likely they'd failed to create an efficient organisation / team to help execute the tasks they'd been assigned. Often resulting in work of dubious quality being rushed to hit a deadline.

I expect you will find belief very common in senior execs.

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Posted on 10 February 2015

How do you think Yahoo stock would react to Marissa Mayer being fired?

Yahoo! stock will go up on the news, absent extenuating circumstances (like another Black Monday).

The stock will go up a quite a bit if the board comes up with a great replacement.

I really wanted Marisa to succeed but it's just not working.

After two years with Marisa at the helm, Yahoo! remains a mediocre company with mediocre businesses.

It has no pricing power and weak margins.

The stock went up solely because of Yahoo!'s minority ownership in Alibaba - something Jerry Yang, not Marisa Mayer, orchestrated long ago.

Investors don't seem to trust Marisa to spend the cash from the Alibaba IPO wisely (or don't think it's possible) and want all (!) the cash proceeds from the Alibaba IPO back.

Forbes has an article on Yahoo! that, in its totality, is pretty damning - Has Marissa Had Enough Of This Yahoo Turnaround?

"Most shareholders I’ve talked to want to see Mayer and CFO Ken Goldman return to shareholders all (not half) the ... proceeds which Yahoo just raised from their Alibaba stake sale in last week’s IPO."

And here are all of Marisa's and Yahoo!'s shortcomings, from the same article:

"-          Decline of the core business revenue and EBITDA over Mayer’s tenure
-          Increased headcount of the core business
-          Value creation in the Yahoo stock price only related to the increase in value of Alibaba which Mayer had no control over
-          The Henrique De Castro hiring and firing with sky-high severance
-          The Tumblr acquisition for $1 billion in cold-hard after-tax Alibaba-related cash
-          The other billion dollars spent on acqui-hires
-          The Katie Couric large upfront contract debacle
-          Mayer’s egregiously high compensation package tied to the increase in value of Alibaba and not the core business
-          The fact that Mayer has been aggressively selling now $14 million in stock since February through exercising stock options in a pre-defined selling plan"

Lastly, employee satisfaction at Yahoo! is basically where it was two years ago, before Marisa took over as CEO.

Where's the morale improvement from forcing lazy employees to show up at work instead of phoning it in from home and demoralizing the ones that were working? What about the benefits of being transparent from having All Hands meetings every week? What about the free lunches?

"According to her Glassdoor ratings, Yahoo’s overall employee satisfaction ratings started rising the moment Mayer was hired but then peaked in October 2013. Since then, the overall satisfaction ratings have drifted back close to where they were before she started."

Yahoo! is losing market share in overall web and mobile ad spending. It is weak in mobile ads and engagement compared to its competitors.

It just can't compete.

Marisa did her best, but it's not enough.

Shareholders want more.

The barbarians are fast approaching the gate.

Tick tock.

Do something great and big or go home.

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Posted on 28 September 2014

How was Marissa Mayer allowed to oversleep for her dinner with European advertising executives in June 2014?

God forbid someone oversleeps! The world is going to stop!  How dare someone do something wrong! I can't stand it. Humans should be perfect, especially everyone but me. I think we should complain about everyone, especially for MAJOR oversights like this where lives were at stake. how mean, how many died? i don't know, but probably thousands. It will probably lead to WWIII and the second Black Plague... Oh! the humanity!  She overslept! It's too much.. The horror... the horror....

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Posted on 1 July 2014

How was Marissa Mayer allowed to oversleep for her dinner with European advertising executives in June 2014?

A couple of thoughts:
  • Business people often don't tell other people their hotel room # when they check in. You want some privacy. And you figure that if someone needs to reach you, they can call the operator and be connected to your room (and/or text you).
  • When you take a nap in a hotel room, you often either tell the operator "no calls" or you might even pull the cords out from all the phones, to ensure silence. If you don't do this, and you are a moderately busy person, the odds are pretty good that your nap will be interrupted by a phone call -- especially phone calls from the hotel itself telling you various random messages like you have a package, or would you like your bed turned down, etc. 

So my guess is that she didn't tell anyone her room # and told the operator no calls.

Three more thoughts:
  • Mayer is a parent of a small child, in addition to serving as the CEO of a huge company. I'm sure she's perpetually exhausted and I can easily imagine this kind of mistake happening.
  • I agree with people who say that these public criticisms are probably sexist in nature; I can't imagine a male CEO being called out like this. The opening scene in Iron Man where Tony flat-out skips an awards presentation in his honor (to play craps) is a story that is not unheard of for certain high-profile male CEOs. Yet you never see stories about these hijinks in the press.
  • I do agree with the assessment (I think I read it in the WSJ) that this mistake never would have happened if the dinner had been with investors or board members. Mayer is a very competent person and obviously could have set the right alarm clock / taken whatever precautions were necessary to wake up in time to make the dinner. My guess is that, on some level, she was willing to take some risk of oversleeping given the audience.

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Posted on 24 June 2014

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?


I worked at Google and attended weekly meetings with Marissa and other VPs as a representative of my department, prior to her move/demotion to local. To echo many of the comments above: she was a force. She had such a presence that it was impossible for her to slip into a room unnoticed, and you knew that if you presented information poorly, or worse, disagreed with her, you were in for a tough conversation.

That being said, she listened to everyone. That included me, a young 20-something who had been at the company for less than a few weeks. She may not have agreed with everything, but she listened to what you had to say, which I always appreciated.

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Posted on 25 February 2014

Is Henrique de Castro leaving Yahoo to become CEO of Microsoft?

It seems pretty unlikely as his name is not being mentioned in any recent blog posts about the Microsoft CEO search.

Here's Bloomberg's most recent post about the Microsoft CEO search:

Microsoft CEO Candidate List Is Said to Include Ericsson's Vestberg

Key excerpt:

Microsoft’s board is considering Ericsson AB Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg as a potential successor to departing leader Steve Ballmer, according to people briefed on the search.

Vestberg, 48, is in the running alongside other candidates, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process is private. Microsoft cloud-computing chief Satya Nadella and former Nokia Oyj CEO Stephen Elop, as well as other outsiders, are also on the list, people familiar with the search have said. The board hasn’t yet reached a decision and who is under consideration is still subject to change.

No mention of De Castro.

Stepping back, I don't think De Castro would be a plausible leader of the largest software company in the world.

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Posted on 15 January 2014

Is Yahoo Answers going to compete with Quora under Marissa Mayer's lead?

By the metrics that the shareholders of YHOO value, I don't think that there's any current competition between the services. Revenue vs. no revenue isn't a competition. Neither is the site traffic comparison.

I've happily chosen Quora as my online home and I scoff at Yahoo Answers along with the best of them. While we enjoy and appreciate our cozy little corner of the web, however, let's not kid ourselves.

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Posted on 25 November 2013

Is Yahoo Answers going to compete with Quora under Marissa Mayer's lead?

Tl; dr: Unlikely.

As I see it, Quora is a high quality site because of the following reasons:

1. A strong community of contributors (which did not come about by throwing money at recruiting us)

.. who use their real names and are verified.

These contributors are expected to behave in line with..

2. A clearly and simply worded set of Quora Policies and Guidelines: What are all of Quora's official policies and guidelines? My own favourite is the "Be Nice Be Respectful" (BNBR) requirement which keeps most discussions civilised.

This produces high quality answers (high signal to noise ratio) which is maintained by keeping the noise low by ensuring adherence to these policies and guidelines and containment of their violation.

This is made possible through ..

3. The contribution of a strong community of volunteer admins, reviewers and moderators. See What are admins, topic admins, reviewers, moderators, etc. on Quora?

4. The job of admins, reviewers and moderators is eased (well, actually probably increased manifold!) because of the contributors mentioned earlier reporting violation of policies too.

In other words, the community polices itself and its own to make sure the quality of the site remains high. This community spirit is hard to create by throwing resources at it.

5. Now that Quora has been around for a bit, there are added network effects. There are meet-ups around the world, where many contributors have met each other and forged real life friendships. Some have obtained book contracts, others report having landed internships or paid gigs. Others, such as me, are simply polishing our skills at conversing with strangers about topics of common interest.

The things that Ms Mayer can no doubt throw money/ resources at would be:

1. A product, accompanied by an app, that irons out the crinkles in Quora, since some of us so diligently keep a log of them on Rage against Quora and Quora Feature Requests Notepad!

2. Better search 

3. Scalability of infrastructure

4. Monetary incentives for creators of content, especially also shares of spoils if the content is syndicated to bigger platforms such as HuffPo, broadsheets and magazines.

But the true value of Quora is in having created a superb, functioning and polite community which creates high quality content. A community works on cohesion and that ineffable thing, that je-ne-sais-quoi, that X factor one can't always find. 

So, as for throwing money at bettering Yahoo Answers to make it compete with Quora, Ms Mayer probably knows this:

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Posted on 25 November 2013

What is Yahoo!'s M&A strategy under Marissa Mayer?

It is interesting.  Having seen all sides of BigCo M&A, it's hard to do right, and especially if you are doing a ton of deals.  It's easy to buy something, hard to get everything right from that moment on.

But I suspect it's driven by two things:
  • First, Marissa Mayer has a long history of M&A at Google and knows what she is looking for.  Google has been more successful than most at M&A, including smaller deals.  Not all of them work out (e.g., Dodgeball), some come up short of what they could have been (Blogger), etc.  But she has a history of success here.
  • Second, Time.  She clearly wants to get things done NOW, or at least, as fast as she can.  She doesn't have the luxury of Jeff Bezos-type time.  M&A done right can really work here.  There's only so many other things she can do quickly.  And Yahoo! has plenty of cash and a solid market cap.  It's not very expensive in the grand scheme of things.

My learning as both an M&A acquisition and as a F500 TechCo VP, is that you can probably make an acquisition work reasonably well for about 24 months IF (x) you get the economics right, and (y) give the acquired team/company/product the proper runway to execute, combined with proper support.

After 24 months, this boost, even if done right, is over.  The target just becomes part of the acquiring entity culturally and technically.  And if you don't get the economics and incentives right, people leave very quickly.

But if you get it right (and Marissa Meyer knows how to do this), you can inject a very knowledgable, very agile, very fast-moving product team into a more calcified BigCo org structure and do some really great things or at least get there much faster.  At least for about 24 months.

That's probably good enough for what she wants to get done, and her short/medium term timeline goals, as the New CEO.

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Posted on 3 July 2013

What is Yahoo!'s M&A strategy under Marissa Mayer?


First, keep in mind  that Yahoo's financial picture is dominated by their stake in Alibaba.  Yahoo owns a 24% stake in two fast-growing Chinese internet businesses, and for large shareholders, this is the primary financial reason to own Yahoo stock - to get exposure to Alibaba (a private Chinese company that's otherwise hard to get into). 

Given that situation, Yahoo's "core business" (the one in the US that Ameri-centric Valley folk think is Yahoo) is almost irrelevant.  It is steadily eroding.  What it means is that Marissa Mayer doesn't have to be risk-averse with the core business, because it's now a vestigial afterthought.  What Marissa Mayer has right now is time, a bunch of cash, and a lot of freedom to repurpose a ton of engineers and product people.  It also has a large sales force - their problem is that the "core" properties are difficult to sell against since they are declining.

Thus, what Mayer is doing is using the cash (and cheap stock - the stock is cheap but this means that it has upside and thus value to optimists, i.e. entrepreneur who might take it as payment) to buy properties that are on growing traffic trajectories and talent who can work on continuing to upgrade those properties.  Yahoo can then take the content from those properties and sell ads against the traffic.  The whole "problem" with Yahoo is that they're a display ads business, but no one was coming to their properties any more.  So Yahoo is just going to buy a bunch of properties, which gets them that traffic, and solve that problem.  The fact that they can pick up some good talent from smaller startups only helps boost the quality of the stuff they're buying.  And, there's a few properties here and there that are still doing well, so Marissa is investing in upgrading them (e.g. Flickr).

A somewhat similar strategy was executed by AOL starting a few years ago by Tim Armstrong, who leveraged AOL's size and cashflow to buy lots of blogs and online publications with growing traffic, and then successfully monetized them using their existing ad sales force.  In fact, the strategy resulted in AOL being the hottest tech stock in 2012 (see The Hottest Tech Stock Of The Year - AOL), in contravention to what was commonly expected as "cool" in the Valley echo-chamber.

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Posted on 3 July 2013

How would acquiring Tumblr make sense for Yahoo?

It makes complete sense. We wanted to find out about this too, so at Wishpond, we did some researching. Then we put together this cool little infographic, with stats like:

  • Tumblr's demographics are young - making it a hip makeover for Yahoo.
  • It has a global appeal, with nearly 13 million users from Brazil
  • Tumblr get over 13 billion views/ month

Check it out: [Infographic] Tumblr by the Numbers

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Posted on 12 June 2013

Will Marissa Mayer let Yahoo! employees blog on their Tumblr accounts from home?

I'm not sure if this question is meant to sound frivolous or not. ^_^ I'll give it the benefit of the doubt, so excuse me while I put my business face on.

Mayer has, thus far, made decisions that focused on teamwork and growth for Yahoo. Since Yahoo, as a collective, has promised to "not screw this up", I can see her looking for ways to be more inclusive of Tumblr team input during work hours and hands-off of all employees' personal space in their personal time.

If *I* were her, I'd encourage Yahoo employees to be down and dirty with Tumblr if they are not already - especially managerial types, who so often stress that employees need to eat their own dogfood, but never seem to do so themselves.

The more use Tumblr sees from Yahoo employees, the more integration into their business plan is likely.

All I know, is that I'm still waiting for the book deal I'll magically get for my incredibly clever Tumblr: I Love Sky Mall

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Posted on 22 May 2013

How would acquiring Tumblr make sense for Yahoo?

I believe it's very tempting ... but makes no sense. 

It's tempting because Tumblr is one of the few massive social/content plays that Yahoo! can do that has real scale.  It's too late to buy Pinterest, Instagram is gone, etc.  So on the surface, it's pretty synergistic with the goals of Yahoo! and has the user scale.

It's a terrible idea because the revenues aren't there.  You can't take something doing < $20-$40m a year in revenue and magically hand it to the "Yahoo Sales Team" and expect a $500m business out of it.  It doesn't work that way.  Tumblr is too small.  Yes, it has the inventory in theory, but I'm skeptical.

Yahoo is a $5b run-rate company.  To be material, Yahoo needs to build new businesses that can hit $500m (10% of $5b) at a minimum within a few years at least, and ideally, with a chance to do $1b in a best-case scenario.

Tumblr would end up just a distraction.  It doesn't automatically enhance the core experience (a la Instagram + Facebook), protect the base (a la Instagram + Facebook), or represent something that can be a $300-$500m material revenue stream before it's stale and/or run into the ground.

You only have a relatively small window after an acquisition to Go Big, no matter what the purchase price or number of free users.  Then it's on to the next thing.  Tumblr can't get big enough from a revenue perspective, fast enough.  And it can't be just about free eyeballs at Yahoo! scale and maturity.

It just doesn't pay the bills.

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Posted on 16 May 2013

Why does Marissa Mayer not want her employees to work from home?

I think one could rephrase your question, "Why does Marissa Mayer not want her employees to NOT work from home?"

If one believes the press reports, the decision was about more closely managing their performance.  Apparently the key piece of data was an analysis of time spent on VPN, by people working from home, which indicated that some people were not spending much of their work from home time on the VPN so they might not actually be working.

Now the question becomes:  Why create a PR firestorm instead of directly addressing each suspected performance issue directly via regular management practices?  This question implies the answer:  To create a storm of discussion and keep Yahoo in the news for a few news cycles.  Perhaps, the press exposure was considered more valuable than any ill will this might create in current and future (potential) employees.  It also has the advantage of looking like a strong assertive action, which is useful PR as well, regardless of whether remote worker productivity is a significant factor in Yahoo's challenges.

So: It appears to have been a very well played piece of PR.  Most companies deal with low performers directly, without creating so much press.  But in this case, the press attention appears to have been part of the motivation for the 'how,' in terms of how this piece of performance management was executed.

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Posted on 3 March 2013

What specific things should Marissa Mayer do to improve Yahoo?

I don't know the exact answer, but let me provide practical thoughts based on having been a VP at a leading F500 tech co., as well as a start-up CEO.

It's easy to be an arm-chair quarterback here.

Basically, I think Yahoo! can probably do three things that matter:
  • Dramatically Improve their Existing Products that Already Work.  Yahoo! is an enormous company, and it seems to only be in the earliest stages of a deathspiral.  Improve and stablize the core.  It seems like this is part of MM's mission. 
  • Align With What Matters Today - For Real.   Today is about mobile and social.  That's obvious, but do it for real.  Talk the talk, walk the walk.  In every way, in every element of every product.  Switching from Blackberries to iPhones is a small first step. 
  • Make One Big Bet. None of this <$100m acquisition cr*p.  That can help make some of their products better, so they should do this too (see Point 1) -- at least one smaller deal per core product.  But that can't move the needle.  They need to Make One Big Bet.  A Pinterest, A Yelp (maybe not big enough) ... something that can really impact Yahoo! and that isn't incompatible with their brand.  No opportunistic cr*p, no Foursquares, no Snapchats.

Is this sexy?  Maybe not.  I can tell you, I think it works.  Most of the other stuff won't matter, or will take too long, or won't be material.

Let's look at Adobe as a case study, which I know reasonably well.  I'd argue they did the same thing, and pretty well in the end:

  • Continual Improvements:  The Creative Suite and Acrobat have continually improved.  Basically doing the same core things, but better than ever.  They remain mature products, but growing, and the Gold Standard in their fields.
  • Alignment with Today:  The Creative Cloud, which Adobe just kicked off, is web-ifying and SaaS-ifying their core products.  Is this epic?  Maybe not in the sense that's its obvious, I guess.  But it's working.  Creative Cloud had blown through expectations and the Digital Media business is on a fast track of going from almost no recurring revenue to $1b in recurring revenue in.  Boom.
  • One Big Bet.  Adobe made 2.  They acquired Omniture, which along with other related digital marketing products, is now an $800m+ product line, the fastest growing part of Adobe, and one of its two core components.  This one worked well from any objective perspective.  Macromedia, made a little earlier, went less well from a revenue perspective, but had the effect of transforming much of the company over time.  So maybe, Yahoo! needs to make 2 big bets over time, not just 1.  But one at a time.

There may be a better roadmap.  But I think this is the practical one.

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Posted on 11 January 2013

What specific things should Marissa Mayer do to improve Yahoo?

Global Marketshare in 2012:

Google 88.8%
Bing      4.2%
Baidu    3.5%
Yahoo    2.4%
Ask       0.6%
Other     0.5%*

Revenues & net income

Based on their own publications, if I extrapolate their earnings based on the first three quarters, they look set to achieve approximately $ 4.8 billion in revenues with a net income of around $ 900 million (~ 19%) to be on the safe side, in 2012. A quick look at their balance sheet (Yahoo! Inc. Stock - Yahoo! Finance) shows us that there is no meaningful debt or other complicating factors. Revenues have been declining steadily, but not precipitously, over the last 5-7 years.


1. Yahoo is irrelevant in what was once famous and trusted for: search

2. Microsoft calls the shots on a large section of Yahoo's revenues

From the NY Times: "In 2009, Yahoo handed over its search engine and related advertising to Microsoft, its one-time search nemesis. The deal, forged by Ms. Bartz, allowed Yahoo to focus on display advertising — banners and other graphical ads — where it remains the industry’s leader. In addition, the terms of the 10-year agreement with Microsoft provided Yahoo with a lucrative 88 percent of the search-generated ad revenue from its own sites for the first five years, much higher than is standard in the industry. Microsoft agreed to provide the underlying search technology on Yahoo’s popular Web sites through Bing, its search engine."^

These five years close in 2015. If Microsoft decides not to renew on these conditions it will have a drastic impact on Yahoo's revenues.

3. Yahoo is not sticky for users

"Yahoo’s problem is that Internet users are spending a bigger portion of their time with Yahoo’s competitors. The percentage of time users spend on Yahoo is down a third from its high three years ago, while the share of the time spent on Facebook has catapulted more than sixfold over the same period, according to the measurement firm comScore.

Yahoo is putting its money on original content to get people to stick around longer. The model is Yahoo Sports. Over the last few years, sports, more than any other Yahoo media site, bet big on original coverage by hiring reporters and writing original articles. Yahoo Sports also produces a number of online video shows, including game highlights and Fantasy Football Live."^

4. Yahoo is flatlining in its chosen core revenue generator, display ads

While online advertising spending grew with 27% in 2011, Yahoo displayed no growth in revenues here.^

The Good News is...

  • The company is on an even keel financially;
  • Restructuring has brought expenditure in check;
  • So it has time to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up.

"Brain, Brain, what are going to do today?" "Wvat ve strive to do every day, Pinky: to conquer ze world!"

So what Marissa Mayer should do specifically is:

  • Keep the company on that hard won even keel;
  • Get her best people and some smart, trusted outside advisors together and figure out what Yahoo's true purpose is;
  • Come up with a strategy that is based on that and creating daily impact & relevance for Yahoo's 700 million users;
  • Ditch or divest those services that do not meet that yardstick;
  • In the mean time, hire/acquire insanely great talent;
  • To help her reinvent the company;
  • Work quietly with a handpicked team on inventing the Next Big Thing that will blow our socks off;
  • Communicate clearly with stakeholders even if it is to tell them you cannot tell them anything, along this journey. Tends to win hearts & minds big time.


* source: → Karma Snack - Internet Marketing Services // Miami SEO - New York - Chicago
^ source: The New York Times

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Posted on 10 January 2013

What specific things should Marissa Mayer do to improve Yahoo?

  • Take the company private. Pressure to make quarterly earnings will prevent meaningful change. Work with someone who knows how to do this like A16Z or Silverlake.
  • Make a decision once and for all on "is Yahoo a product company or a content company?" I vote product.
  • Publish a vision/mission statement that reflects the new strategy. Encourage employees who aren't interested to opt out. No need to manage unhappy investors (see the first point).
  • Sell off any remaining businesses that don't fit.
  • Lay a bunch of people off.
  • Build an unbelievable M&A department. Capable of acquiring *and integrating* anything from a small talent acquisition up to a $100M+ run rate business.
  • Rebuild a great team via startup acquisitions and making Yahoo a great place to work.
  • In terms of what specific products to build/buy, I have no idea. If I were aware of any consumer internet businesses capable of generating the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue needed to move the needle at Yahoo, you bet I'd be working on them.

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Posted on 10 January 2013

What specific things should Marissa Mayer do to improve Yahoo?

  • Seek out visionary product managers within its ranks and let them ship cutting edge products with sufficient resources.
  • Transform product teams to operate more like mini-startups.
  • Re-evaluate core product vision to see if it still matches reality and how it can be improved.

Example of what is wrong today:
Quora and Aardvark are basically derivatives of Answers.  If we were a startup, and not part of Yahoo! we would've kicked their butts.
Source - Yumio Saneyoshi's answer to Who was responsible for building Yahoo! Answers?

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Posted on 9 January 2013

Will we see a Yahoo-Google deal next year?


First of all, Microsoft isn't going to walk away easily. Losing the distribution from Yahoo -- and a re-invigorated Yahoo no less -- would be really bad for Bing, which manages to maintain something around 1/3 of the market overall and would be much smaller otherwise. Yes, Microsoft is losing money and yes they'll probably have to extend the revenue guarantees. The smart money says they'll do the latter and over time slowly shrink the amount of the former.

Second of all, I still don't believe this passes DOJ muster. Are we betting things are easier under a Romney administration? That seems likely, but the Intrade bet is still on Obama's re-election. And besides, what's in it for the anti-trust folks to basically say, "Yes, we believe it's a good idea for the government to sanction Google buying its way to a near monopoly."

There's a funny thing about anti-trust law. If you're really failing, it's not generally waived to bail you out. It gets in your way and forces you to come up with Plan B. We heard from T-Mobile not so long ago they "needed to merge with AT&T" to survive. The government said no. T-Mobile is now buying MetroPCS and adopting a new strategy.

Yahoo would have to be literally going under to make for a smooth path through the approval process and it isn't. In the meantime, the mere attempt to switch would be a huge distraction, which is the last thing Yahoo needs right now. I am well aware Marissa Mayer spent a lot of time at Google, but I think she's way smarter than trying to make this move to incrementally improve the bottom line.

Rather, I think she'll redouble efforts to make Yahoo search great and drive up the value of those pages. If anything, she gets Microsoft to put Bing under Yahoo rather than going to Google hat in hand.

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Posted on 8 October 2012

What does it mean that Marissa Mayer is removing parking lot barriers and disabling turnstiles at Yahoo?

What does it mean?

The fake answer: The lots by Bldg A, B, C, and D had gates. The lots by Bldg E, F, and G did not.  Why? I'm not sure. The gates at some lots did not add any real security, but just added one extra step to get into work -- if you parked at that lot. Of course, you could always cross the street. Buildings are still secured. There is still a visitors parking area. Remember, there is nothing worse than a false sense of security, so meaningless gates are just a waste. They are gone and we get to save ourselves a few extra seconds in the morning.

The less fake answer:  This is one of many gestures that are both symbolic and practical that remove barriers (real and symbolic) to getting things done at work. All good. Management is making the workplace more efficient.  This is what good management does. Thank you Marissa.

The real answer: Kara's blog has been suffering as of late in that she is not getting the flow of leaked information she used to get. The means her coverage of Yahoo! is far less interesting, and contains even more inaccuracies than it had in the past. Whereas industry analysts enjoy briefings, and journalists get press releases and briefings, some bloggers have to resort to spreading rumors by getting information leaked by way of inside sources. So what her blog post really means is that somehow she got a leaked memo (well close to it -- the one she posted was altered). And thus those readers who care about pesky details like Yahoo!'s real estate activities can continue to enjoy the non-news.

BTW, Doesn't it make you feel dirty when you read a memo that says "PROPRIETARY AND CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION"? This is obviously not intended for publication, and it's shameful that the tech world relies upon this kind of reporting for "news." Would you really care if some of the walls at Yahoo! get a paint job too? Would it be OK if people exposed your confidential emails on their blogs?

So what this really means has nothing to do with gates or any of the minutia "reported" in the post. It has to do with AllThingsD showing they still can say something interesting (?) about Yahoo!. Personally I'm not interested in the inner navel gazing by bloggers about the subtle work details at tech companies.I think it's a little creepy actually. I think readers are interested in new products, joint ventures, and other forms of real news and insight. Remodeling some elements of the facilities is hardly interesting. Showing the readers that Kara can still get a leaked memo once in a while is the story here. <slow clap>

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Posted on 26 August 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?

I hate anonymous posts.  Come out and show your face if you have something to say.  I agree with most things that are said above, both positive and negative. I worked with Marissa for several years.   I have to say she never was smarter than 85% of the people in the room at Google, and I think she herself would agree with that.  She was about average.  She did accomplish a lot, not because she was smarter or more hard-working, but because she was ambitious and assertive and had relatively tough skin.  She did this at the expense of cutting off some people who were less ambitious or less assertive or more sensitive, but just as smart and as hard working as her...  Whether or not these Marissa-specific traits are an asset or a liability depends on the context and the perspective from which you judge her.  Google did well, but it wasted a lot of smart people's brains and time in the process.  It wasn't just  Marissa's fault--it was the general company culture.  It's anyone's guess whether or not it was possible to utilize all of that brain power assembled at Google better, and whether or not people like Marissa (and she was by no means unique at Google with respect to being rude and disrespectful to others) did more good than harm or more harm than good.  That said, I think she is an extraordinary young woman because of her ambition and tough skin, and  ability to learn.  I think she learned a lot and changed a lot, all for the better.  I cannot think of a better person to lead Yahoo as a CEO.

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Posted on 10 August 2012

What are the first few steps Marissa Mayer has taken after joining Yahoo!?

Shefaly Yogendra's answer is correct -- the things in the news are in the news (e.g. free food in the Sunnyvale cafe), and the things that are "inside" are supposed to remain inside.  But yes, she has taken steps and it's impressive to watch.

I'm inside, and do not plan to overshare since that violates the bonds of trust that we have in the company. But I'll share one thing that I think is worth sharing since it's a good lesson for leaders, and it will resonate well with former Yahoos here. There is an internal email list where some employees "shoot the breeze" on a variety of topics -- usually technical, but it's the one list that allows a wide range of conversations, some include complaints, rants, and even some heated debates. It's a good sink for some pent up energy, and it's known internally as "D-R"  Marissa joined the list and participates on some of the important issues. She takes the conversations and addresses them in her crisp, matter-of-fact style that demonstrates she understands the issue, and is pragmatic about her approach. It is impressive and amazing. She get's it, and raises the conversation one level up, while letting some things slide. You almost never find a CEO who understands how to tap right into the heart of the cultural center of the company and get cozy with the influencers and nay-sayers. It's freaking awesome to watch, and I think it's having a profoundly positive effect on the technical staff.

The day she joined the company, someone started a "requests for the new CEO" thread on the list. It contained some reasonable suggestions, and some funny/silly ones too. No one expected she would read it. She did, and responded. Sure, she's busy, and how. But something told her to care about this too. There are many things that Marissa has to worry about, and one of them is the employees -- clearly she is taking care of business on many fronts. Our CEO is a member of D-R #ForTheWin.  I'm reminded of Charlene Li's fantastic book Open Leadership as Marissa is an example.

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Posted on 30 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?


I worked with her and observed that in a man's world of technologists and overblown egos, she held her own.  She's smart, knows what she needs to do to act strategically, demands the best from people around her.  Any man who did the same would be "brilliant" but I think she gets nasty comments because she is a woman.

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Posted on 25 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?

I have a few friends at Google who worked w/ and under Marissa and called her "Little Hitler." Their explanation was that it is already a tough enough working environment under 24x7 time constrainsts without having senior managment bark at you w/ threats of your impending failure. If you can't handle the heat at Google you shouldn't be there in the first place. The employees at Google are some of the smartest, hardest working and brightest people in the world and to treat them any less is an invitation to abandon ship. Marissa may have abandoned ship because she needs to be in total control. Control is an illusion.

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Posted on 25 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?


I worked with Marissa on a couple projects over a 3-year period, as a UX designer. Though I'm rooting for her to succeed at Yahoo, her reputation at Google was mixed. Here are my impressions —

To her credit:
- She always spoke her mind, and would defend projects she believed in.
- She's blunt, but as others have pointed out, this often helped keep things moving.
- She protected from bloat; no small task given Google's bottom-up culture.
- She understood the importance of social (Facebook, twitter) long before other senior leaders at Google did.

On the other hand:
- She clung to 'web 1.0' design conventions, effectively freezing and enforcing Google's 1998-era design patterns. i.e. she insisted that all links be blue and underlined, and she limited the use of buttons or any elements that were 'like a desktop app'. This limited our ability to be inventive.
- She held weekly design review meetings that were widely considered to be a bottleneck. There was a widespread belief that her management style slowed product development. She was more of a gatekeeper than leader.
- She would sometimes rely on data without any hypothesis about underlying causes (the infamous '41 shades of blue' —
- For these reasons, she was effectively forced off the search team, and put on the maps team. She never built much credibility within the maps team.
- She was also largely responsible for the questionable Zagat acquisition, and the doomed Boutiques project, (which has since been shut down - As well as silly stuff like the Gucci and Dolce and Gabbana iGoogle themes (

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Posted on 25 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?

I'm a former Yahoo and this is my perspective from a few years out. I worked with a lot of good people there and thought it definitely had assets at the time. My assumption that some of that talent is still there and that is definitely possible, but it will be difficult for various reasons.

The premise is why it is possible can be witnessed by the growth of social services such as Pinterest, Instagram, Draw Something, etc. The capital required for this is much less than the hardware supply changes that Apple had to go through to create its rebirth. While I am on the subject of Apple, it is instructive that Apple did not become APPLE, by continuing to iterate on the Mac, but it skewed sideways into the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. The iPod reaffirmed the Windows platform instead of insisting that the iPod support Mac only, which in traditional thinking was a no no. Apple in effect was willing to sacrifice the Mac for the iPod which is pretty amazing, it didn't work out that way, but it could have. So that's the crux of the situation for rebirth.

  1. First and foremost, take actions to change the perception of Yahoo. Right now any new product Yahoo X will be perceived as a dog no matter how good it is. It won't get a fair shake among the blogerati. Life isn't fair and the tech gossip tsunami is too overwhelming. Work to develop new products that appear independent of Yahoo, do not constrain them to carrying the brand. Power them with all the identity services to ensure that you are not using the Yahoo brand as a crutch for distribution. If some of these services take off, the reveal that it was Yahoo will be mind blowing, and if they fail, no one will care. Assume you will have a hit somewhere, if not you have the 700 million monthly uniques.
  2. Focus on operations and marketing to be more nimble. In large companies, the bureaucracy will say use X because it is more efficient and we are optimized for that. This is great when X actually fits the need, but when it almost fits, it stymies the product and the organization. Work on operations to be able to assimilate new infrastructure and technologies faster. Yahoo was difficult because you had to shop at the Yahoo store of technologies or else and orgs had a pocket veto on any new product feature. This makes Yahoo so difficult is few people could make things happen, but almost everyone could make things not happen.
  3. Strengthen your core products to reduce loss. All the old products have atrophied and are kludgy and can be frustrating. Focus on a seamless experience. For instance, search in mail is random at best. Sports and Finance are solid, but not magical. See what can be done to make them feel like an extension of people's lives. (this is a bit trite, but the iPhone is so great because it does the details so well).

The question is, is Yahoo is sort of like Jeremy Lin, someone who is a bench warmer until they are not. It's not clear that Yahoo does have the latent skill anymore, but if it does a turnaround is clearly possible. The greatest challenge is to acknowledge its core strengths but not be hindered by them. Good luck Marissa and please give your child the time s/he deserves too.

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Posted on 19 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?

My mother once observed that Yahoo was a bit like Java: it's something vaguely to do with computers, that wants you to stop what you're doing so it can tell you about itself, but which is incapable of communicating what it is for. Now, Java isn't the mystery, to me, that it is to my mother, but Yahoo certainly is.

What is it for? What does it do? Until someone can start telling the world a convincing story about that, then no one can turn yahoo around. How can you turn something around, when you're not even sure which way it is going?

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Posted on 19 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?

It's going to be really tough. And this really has nothing to do with Marissa, more to do with the current state of Yahoo! and how long its products have been neglected.

Some of the big challenges she faces and what impact she might have on them:
  • Wall Street's focus on the quarter. Wall Street expects results in months, not years. See what's happened to Apple's Ron Johnson at JCPenney Rakesh Agrawal's answer to It's May 2012. Why is Ron Johnson's new JC Penny retail strategy failing? That's extremely unrealistic given the depth of problems at Yahoo. Unlike Google, Facebook and more recently public companies, Yahoo doesn't have the extreme dual-class share structure that lets Page or Zuck say "fuck Wall Street, I'm going to do what's right for the long term." There's not much she can do to change this.
  • Flight of talent. Yahoo has lost a lot of talent over the years. This is something that Google has only begun to face recently. It's been a long time since Yahoo was considered a great place to work by top engineers or product people. Having Mayer on board might help this a bit. (If it weren't for the fact that they're down in Sunnyvale, I might consider sending my resume in post-Mayer.) But Yahoo has been known for layers of management that don't let engineers do their thing. I would expect that one of her top priorities will be to make Yahoo an attractive place to work for engineers.
  • Zero focus. Yahoo's brand has been all things to all people. Is it a tech company? A media company? No one knows. None of the recent CEOs have been able to articulate a vision for the company. She can certainly improve this by ruthlessly killing off non-core products. It's unclear, however, how much she did this at Google. It seems most of Google's retirement of dead products began after she moved into her new role.
  • A hostile press and digerati. Many in the media and digerati will hate on Yahoo no matter what it does. I hope that with a new CEO who is generally respected in Silicon Valley that they will give her moves a fair hearing.

Yahoo has also lost early leadership in four of the most important things for the future: search, social, local and mobile.

  • Search. Obviously, she knows a lot about search. But Bartz essentially sold that off to Microsoft and I don't know that there's a good way to get that lucrative business back. If anyone can figure that out, it's Marissa.
  • Social. Although Yahoo had one of the original social graphs with Yahoo Messenger, it failed to capitalize on it. It also had a number of failed experiments with Yahoo Mash and Yahoo 360. flickr has historically been one of Yahoo's strong spots, but it has long been neglected. (So much so that I started moving all my pictures to Picasa, just in case Yahoo throws in the towel.) Given Google's abysmal track record in social, I don't hold out much hope here.
  • Local. Remember Yahoo Maps? Yeah, at one time Yahoo was an important player in the local space. That was a long time ago. This is another area that Marissa has expertise in. But Google has made a lot of outsized investments in local that would be extremely hard to replicate. Apple is trying to do that now. But Apple has a huge asset with the iPhone: it can embed data collection into iOS to build its dataset, much like it did to push out Skyhook Wireless.
  • Mobile. Before the smartphone era, Yahoo actually had some decent products in mobile. (See But despite owning flickr, it completely missed the transition to mobile photos. See this fantastic answer on Quora: Kellan Elliott-McCrea's answer to Why did Flickr miss the mobile photo opportunity that Instagram and picplz are pursuing?. Yahoo's mobile strategy was built largely around working with carriers. That has become much less important with the rise of smartphones. Unlike Google and Apple, it doesn't have its own OS. And unfortunately for Yahoo, it lost its lead in core drivers of mobile use -- maps and photos. Mail is also not as strong as it used to be.

As I write this, it reminds me a lot of my time at Aol. Aol also had a lot of early leadership that was squandered by CEO after CEO chasing the quarter and refusing to invest in innovation, despite having some smart people who knew what was coming.

Aol's current CEO, Tim Armstrong, is another ex-Googler, and he has hardly set the world on fire. His single biggest accomplishment has been selling Aol's patent portfolio to Microsoft.

I give Marissa better odds than Tim at Aol.

Among all the advice that I've seen headed for Marissa this week, she would be best served by reading this piece by ex-Yahoo Sriram Krishnan: Unsolicited advice for Marissa Mayer

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Posted on 19 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?


No one in silicon valley will speak negatively of a newly-crowned queen of a $17 billion company. People want y! to be a sufficiently viable competitor again to buy their nonperforming startup assets

Marissa was an early Google employee but primarily a supporter during that period, best described as coasting on a few early accomplishments and reflected glory. Her main accomplishments were in media relations, being willing to talk to the press about the company's mission. She took many meetings in general, lots of smoke but little fire. She had been marginalized for several years and was no longer part of the leadership team. She was retired in place at Google with no possibility for career progression.

She was responsible for several shortsighted policies, such as the "core schools" and GPA cutoff recruiting policy which applied even when hiring experienced developers, a policy which was ended with her marginalization.

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Posted on 17 July 2012

When is Marissa Mayer's due date and how long will her maternity leave be?

She gave an exclusive interview to Fortune, stating that the baby is due on October 7th.

As for maternity leave, Mayer, who recently joined the board of Walmart (WMT), expects  it to be speedy. "I like to stay in the rhythm of things," she says,  referring to the CEO job that she is starting tomorrow. "My maternity  leave will be a few weeks long and I'll work throughout it."

Here's the link to the full interview:

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Posted on 17 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?

From Marc Andreessen:

It’s hard to think of many Web companies that succeeded in turning themselves around. On the other hand, it’s hard to overestimate how screwed Apple was in 1997.

Apple demonstrates that it's possible to turn a tech company around. Apple also proves how hard it is because it is one of a very small number of examples. Tech Companies can in fact be turned around but the problem is, there aren’t a lot of Steve Jobs characters running around.”

The thing about turnarounds is that they take time. It's three to five years to do the job. So one of the things she needs for the board to support her for that period of time. The number 2 thing is for shareholders to support her.  Number three is people like us on the outside. This is not six months and what has she done for me.


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Posted on 17 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer viewed within Google?


I reported to Marissa before she was a VP, after she was a VP, and then to someone who reported to her. I was never close friends with her, but I do consider her a mentor and I have many friends in common with her.

The comment on HN is not an accurate portrayal. I can see why someone would think that, as many people had difficulty working with her. She's opinionated, smart, and direct. I'd argue that it's very rare to find someone extremely successful who doesn't rub a lot of people the wrong way. If you're smarter than 85% of people in the room on any given day, and have been for most of your life, then you get used to knowing what someone not as smart as you is going to say, cutting them off to tell them why they're wrong, and moving on. This is an unfortunate mode of operation most people come to -- there are only so many hours in the day. When I first started at Google, fresh out of school, I was taken aback by how curt and angry many senior execs seemed. I saw her behave this way to dozens of people.

But I soon learned that it was a side effect of not having enough hours in the day, and they'd learned to be direct. As an aside: not all executives are this way, and there's no excuse for being an asshole for the sake of being an asshole. But let's look at these behaviors in context and give people the benefit of the doubt. What I found interesting is that this behavior most often annoyed people who were less secure in their own abilities or who were less well respected by the organization already. It was really that a curt executive magnified something they already felt, rather than being the source of the issue.

In my interactions with her, she was extremely generous, thoughtful, and caring. In my years of working with her, she would give me honest but productive feedback, taught me countless small but meaningful tidbits (e.g. if you're giving a presentation, speak to the most important person in the room), and even jumped on a few grenades for me (once I decided to give a strategy presentation that directly conflicted with what Sergey wanted to do, pissed him off, and she insulated me from his anger that day in a way that achieved the right outcome for Google and probably saved me from being on Sergey's bad side). I had to work my ass off and had to prove to her that I knew what I was doing, but once I had her respect, she trusted me. This did not mean I had a free ride. She still pushed back on me, but if I really believed something and had good reasons for it, she never pulled rank on me, even though I am several years her junior.

I can understand why some people had the interactions they did with her. She's a strong personality, opinionated, a clear thinker, and very fast at taking in new information and evolving her opinion -- that's why she's 37 and the CEO of Yahoo. This is not a personality that everyone can get along with. And it does have its side effects. In the same way that she trusted your judgement by default and would take the onus to override you if she disagreed, if you were on her shit-list, then the onus was on you to override her judgement if you disagreed. This is a hyper rational way to interact with people with whom you've had many many interactions. And, of course, it isn't 100% accurate. But she's not Bill Clinton. She won't charm the pants off of you if she decides for whatever reason that she doesn't want to. Her job as an executive is to get shit done and sometimes this means pissing people off. But to make it seem as though she was universally hated or incompetent is a gross mischaracterization.

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Posted on 17 July 2012

What will Yahoo look like in 6 months now that Marissa Mayer is CEO?

In all likelihood, the Yahoo you see in 6 months is going to look a lot like the one you see today. But I suspect a number of important things will already have changed:

  • People Mayer knows from Google will have top jobs at Yahoo. There's a lot of reasons to explain why transplanting people from Google to Yahoo won't solve Yahoo's problems, but (a) it's going to happen and (b) it's going to help. First of all, these people are used to being successful. Belief in success is no small thing and it's not as if everything that Google has achieved over the past decade has been handed to it. The success with YouTube, Mail, Android, Maps and, for that matter, AdWords, were all not guaranteed at the start. Bringing winners over to Yahoo is going to change the culture there. Second of all, that leads to....
  • ... Some people are going to give Yahoo a second look. It's not as if joining Yahoo has been something top Silicon Valley talent has been spending a lot of time considering for the past several years. I'm convinced that will change. I'm further convinced that there is more talent still sitting at Yahoo desks than people realize. Inertia and loyalty are powerful and while it's assuredly true that a lot of Yahoo's best people have left in the past decade, more are there than you might think. Some that would have left by year end now might give it a second look to see what changes are going to come.
  • Yahoo is going to focus on things that really generate traffic and get rid of things that don't. What are they getting rid of? I have no idea. I don't have the analytics and page-view data. Assume there are some second- and third-tier Yahoo properties that won't be mess. They'll be spun out, sold or gone by the end of 2012. That's going to make room for....
  • ... Some new initiatives to restart growth and also place some strategic bets on the future. I suspect the goal is going to be a much more successful variant on the AOL strategy here. Why more successful? Well, for starters, Yahoo has a ton of traffic which generates a lot of advertising revenue. (AOL was relying on people not canceling dial-up for the cash-cow revenue stream.) Internet advertising is still growing nicely yet Yahoo has been flat for a long while. Look for significant hires in advertising sales and a crystal-clear re-commitment to supporting agencies and large advertisers. As to the new initiatives, I doubt Yahoo is going to find it relevant or interesting to enter markets that will put it in direct competition with Google or Facebook -- that feels like a loser. Instead, the company will probably double down on content and do things that absolutely no one expects to compliment that.
  • Clarity on the Alibaba partial sale should be obtained and the magnitude of Yahoo's resources should be clear. Yahoo ended 2011 with $2.5 billion in cash and marketable securities[1], it's likely that Yahoo will have >$6 billion after the Alibaba "phase one" transaction is complete. (If they can make a deal to sell their interest in Yahoo Japan to Softbank, the number will be that much higher). A lot of money is authorized to buy back shares. It is my sincere hope Mayer will suspend all share buybacks indefinitely. Share buybacks are a terrible means of returning cash to shareholders. They only work if the stock price actually rises proportionally to the amount of shares retired. For mature companies with strong cash flows, an incredibly well-defined business and well known cash needs looking forward, it's definitely reason to argue that share buybacks make sense. Yahoo is not any such company. Buying back shares to appease some hedge fund with a single-digit shareholding makes no sense and won't likely make the hedge fund any money either.

For all it's travails, Yahoo is a profitable company. There is no overwhelming need to clean house just to return to profitability -- the previous rounds of layoffs seem to have costs under control. Some people, of course, will be let go as certain parts of the company cease to exist. So the question Marissa Mayer gets to think about is: How do we spend $5 billion trying to turn around the company that once ruled the internet? And to do that, she'll have to decide how to answer Michael Arrington's infamous question to Carol Bartz: "What is Yahoo?" [2]

Yahoo is well positioned to buy things that will align with its new mission and also positioned to do two things that could alter its trajectory a decade from now:
  1. It can never again make the mistake of haggling on price over a Google or Facebook when said thing is tiny. Whether it ever gets the chance to buy such a thing again is another matter, but it had a chance to buy both and eventually decided its money was better used elsewhere. It should maintain enough of its warchest that it never makes that kind of error again.
  2. It can get its finger in as many pies as possible. Microsoft is now investing in startups through the Bing Fund. Yahoo should emulate the hell out of this and invest in more things. As many things as it can find that align with its mission. It should have a streamline due diligence model and should then hand out checks. Lots of checks. It will take a team of a few dozen people to monitor what happens to this money, but consider the impact of spreading $100,000-250,000 per company around to 1000 companies. The purpose here is not getting the biggest piece of the next big thing, it's getting a piece of many many next big things. It's about introducing people to folks at Yahoo, helping 1000 seeds grow. Sure, most of them will fail, but some won't. They should hire Dave McClure to run this and let him co-invest his 500 Startups money but make him do it faster. If he won't do it, find a poor man's Dave McClure. Just do this.

Look, 6 months is not very long. Apparently, the new CEO will give birth during that time. Even if she takes an abbreviated and part-time maternity leave, let's not pretend this is going to have no impact. But it's enough time for the culture to change and for the sentiment to change. And those things will happen, because the company now has someone who can legitimately be looked on as a savior. Will the savior deliver? We don't know (although as I said in the other question, how can we not be pulling for her?) but it seems possible. After a long time looking at Yahoo thinking fixing it was nothing buy impossible, that's already a big change.

[1] Source: Yahoo annual report.
[2] If you've never seen this, you should watch it.

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Posted on 17 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?


Pointing out that I know Marissa only in passing and have little exposure to the recent turnuover at Google and was only peripherally privy, due to the leak inside Yahoo, to the board's thinking I will stick to what I know about her and how I view the inside of Yahoo!

Yahoo! is flaying wildly, grasping for the remaining straw in a torrent of bad and mediocre news about its company. The recent turmoil inside the board, combined with CEO troubles makes Yahoo! prime pickings for someone like Marissa.

Marissa is a walking conundrum. On one hand she talked her relative youth, Glamour magazine exposure, winning personality, and "powerful woman" into a selling point, on the other hand her direct reports, peers, and even bosses had very little good to say about her day to day bedside manners. She can be extremely abrasive, closed to the point of dismissive, and often chalks criticism of her leadership and work ethics up to sexism, ageism, or cronyism inside the company.

This leads us to Yahoo! A split board, distrust even between top leadership members, actual, existing, cronyism which led to many bad decisions made by previous C-level executives and slavishly implemented by friends and family in the tiers down. Combined with a culture of discouraged discourse this is a place in which Marissa will shine but won't have the pushback to change the course of a sinking ship headed for an iceberg.

If Mayer can change her attitude, become a team player and benevolent leader she has the chops and outside perception to turn around the company. If her style mirrors that of her Google days we might be in for more treacherous waters.

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Posted on 16 July 2012

How was Marissa Mayer recruited to Yahoo!?

I didn't realize she was pregnant! It speaks very well of Yahoo that they were not put off by that.

From Fortune:

Of course, her pregnancy, which Mayer learned of last January, was something to think about when she got the initial call from Jim Citrin, the Spencer Stuart recruiter commissioned by the Yahoo board. "I got the call on Monday, June 18," recalls Mayer, adding that she was "very moved and flattered." Yahoo's huge audience of more than 600 million visitors intrigued her, as did the potential to make the struggling company's products "much more innovative and delightful."

Mayer insists she was "very happy at Google" and "coming into my own" even though Larry Page, after he assumed the Google CEO job from Eric Schmidt last year, slid Mayer out of the CEO's inner circle.

Mayer first disclosed to the Yahoo board that she is pregnant in late June, in a meeting with Michael Wolf, a member of the board's four-person CEO search committee. A meeting with the search committee followed, and then Mayer met with the full board last Wednesday. None of the Yahoo directors, she says, revealed any concern about hiring a pregnant chief executive. "They showed their evolved thinking," says Mayer, who got the phone call last Thursday that she was the board's choice to be CEO.

Asked if she expects Ross Levinsohn, the Yahoo interim CEO who was expected by most people to get the permanent job, to stay at the company, Mayer replies: "I haven't been commenting on my conversations with Ross." She calls Levinsohn "a phenomenal executive."

As for maternity leave, Mayer, who recently joined the board of Walmart, expects it to be speedy. "I like to stay in the rhythm of things," she says, referring to the CEO job that she is starting tomorrow. "My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I'll work throughout it."

The Yahoo board did make one concession for its expecting chief executive: The September board meeting, scheduled to be in New York, will be in Yahoo's hometown of Sunnyvale, California.


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Posted on 16 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?

2 assumptions are present in this question.

That a) one person can turn around the fortunes of a company, and that b) Yahoo!'s fortune is tied mostly to its performance.

They both make a common psychological mistake, commonly known as the Fundamental Attribution Error.

The Fundamental Attribution Error is the psychological bias where people search for simple causal relationships between 2 highly correlated events. For example people might state that "Apple succeeded because of Steve Job's performance" alone - and ignore the multitude of factors that contributed to Apple's success (rise of China, 2000-2007 boom, Moore's Law, falling price of storage, continual dominance of PCs in the domestic market).

This heuristic worked extraordinarily well for determining the location of man eating carnivores while walking on the African Savannah.

It doesn't work nearly as well in extremely complicated systems such as global trade, finance and business.

a): Can one person turn around the fortunes of a company?

They can - but it is only partially true.

Bill Gates turned around the fortunes of Microsoft with his IBM licensing deal. But IBM had to make the mistake of not going with CPM in the first place. Bill Gate's deal was skill BUT only after an unexpected mistake in judgement and communication between IBM/CPM. Without the uncontrollable extraneous mistake you wouldn't be talking about Bill Gates. He's good - but not that good.

No one is that good.

Marissa Mayer can turn around Yahoo!, just like the English turned around the Spanish armada - after a horrific storm destroyed most of their fleet.

This must be understood.

I have seen people state numerous times that a particular CEO has "ran a company from $5 million to $50 million". But this ignores other factors completely outside a CEO's control - competitor missteps, economic climate, geopolitical conflict/fear, rise of the internet/computers, growth in fundamental industries and so forth.

A rising tide raises all boats.

This does not mean that a boat that is sinking and being bailed out won't rise faster. It just means the majority of the rise is thanks to the Moon orbiting the Earth.

Marissa can help bail out the boat (or she can add more water to it) - but she needs the tide to help her out if she wants to stand a chance of success.

b): Yahoo!'s fortune is tied mostly to its performance.

Mostly but not all.

Indeed Google's rise took place because of competitor missteps that were OUTSIDE their control (this is key to understanding). Had inktomi doubled down on search instead of their CDN business - we might be talking about inktomi and not Google today. Had Yahoo! bought Google (as they bought many others) - we might be talking of Yahoo!'s new tablet and not Google's.

Indeed Excite (remember them?) could've had Google for $1 million back in 1999.

Google relied upon the infrastructure ideas developed by inktomi, the falling cost of internet (over investment in dark fibre), the dot-com crash (got great employees/data centres/office space/hosting cheap), the general adoption of DSL broadband and the continued popularity of home computers.

Above: Google/Youtube dominated as Broadband became mainstream (

There are probably dozens (millions?) of other factors I haven't accounted for - suggest edits if you think of any more.

Google has immense skill - no doubt - I'm not knocking them (You rock Google!).

But you must understand that skill alone is not enough. You need "luck", or a combination of other factors to turn something probably worth ~$10 million into ~$10 billion.

Marissa Mayer can turn Yahoo! around. But not alone. She needs the world to help her out.

And if it doesn't - she will fail.

All I can really say is: Good luck Marissa! You are going to need it.


If you've made it this far down the answer, enjoyed it, and you would like to see more like it, then you should follow me here: Anirudh Joshi

[1] (as enjoyably illustrated by  Leonard Mlodinow in The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives) which I have just read after writing this answer (yes really!) - I highly recommend that you read it and watch the talk above -








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Posted on 16 July 2012

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo! around?


She certainly believes so, and she has enough intellect, experience and must have gathered enough inputs to come to that conclusion. I suppose one does not take a decision to leave a senior executive position at Google lightly.

If you tune out the blogger echo chamber, and pay attention to financial analysts you will find a belief emerging that Yahoo! is an undervalued property. So, yes , she has a decent shot.

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Posted on 16 July 2012

Is it normal for an American to move his/her arms so much during talking?

To your first question, yes it is normal for Americans to move their arms when talking, but no, not as much as the video you've linked to (that is not a normal situation where he's interviewing someone of notable fame and the recording will receive fairly high distribution with techcrunch for something he's very passionate about).

To your subquestion, as an American I do find his movements to be slightly exaggerated, but that's not necessarily a fair question.  I don't think it's a European thing to compare as Italians are well known to use more physical gestures than other Europeans when speaking. Whether Eurpoean or American, you express many of your thoughts through body language.  Some are just a little more talkative than others with their body. 

  • The first part of his speech has him emphasizing a lot of the nouns with his hands where he's establishing the core idea of the interview.
  • At 1:26 he says it won't scale and hold his hands slight further apart,
  • At 1:34 he talks about 360 view and moves his hands in the same fashion
  • At 3:32 when he says this is mean, he jab his hands more directly at Marissa
  • Also earlier he established hotpot on his right leg, and when he starts comparing it to Yelp it's on the left leg so he's creating a virtual opposition in front of him with the two review sites
There's more, but someone who is so emphatic with his gestures provides great dissection for what they're thinking.  To that point, notice much of what he's saying with his BL he's saying verbally.  That's redundant when he emphasizes and repeats everything.  That could be part of the reason he could be more annoying to you too.

pa. I also apologize as an American for Jason's sock choice.

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Posted on 12 September 2011

Before Sheryl Sandberg took it, was the Facebook COO position available to Google's Marissa Mayer?

Jeff Jordan was originally offered the position but declined. To what has been uncovered Marissa was not interviewed for the position. Sheryl Sandberg met Mark Zuckerberg at a party, where they became friends. Sheryl was originally the chief of staff for the U.S Treasury department, and then became Vice President of Online global sales for Google. Mark was very inexperienced and she was very experienced so they made a great team together. A new, fresh player and a seasoned veteran in other terms. After talking to Sheryl many times the position was offered to her because Mark believed she would make a great extension to his team. So the position was never a, "Who wants it?" Sheryl was just a perfect fit for the company.

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Posted on 7 May 2011 search results

I'm Nicholas Carlson, the author of a new book called "Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!" Ask me anything!

My short bio: "[Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!]( )" is about the rise and fall of Yahoo, the Internet's first iconic company. It's also a bit of a biography of Marissa Mayer, the famous, glamorous early Googler now running Yahoo. The story is: can this wonder woman CEO save a dying giant? The New York Times says the book is "a lot of fun." Fortune says it's a "quick, compelling read." The FT says the book does "a superb job of bringing to life the dramatic story of Yahoo and how 39-year-old Mayer is faltering in her role as its saviour." I'm Nicholas Carlson, chief correspondent at Business Insider, where I write longform and cover the Internet industry.

My Proof:

UPDATE: I've got to get back to work here at Business Insider. But this was a lot of fun, and I'm really grateful to everyone who asked questions or stopped by to do some reading. If you have any further questions, please feel free to email me at Finally, if this Q&A interests you, you should buy a copy of my book! Or 7 copies! It's up to you. You can find it at most bookstores and on Amazon here: Thanks again!

submitted by nichcarlson to IAmA
[link] [57 comments]

Posted on 9 February 2015

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: "I don't think that I would consider myself a feminist"

Read the Slate butthurt about it here and here:

Her objection seems to be mostly about style, which she summarizes as “militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder.” When thinking about women, “there’s more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.”

submitted by gekkozorz to TheRedPill
[link] [10 comments]

Posted on 5 April 2014

A bit of info about Marissa Mayer's (CEO of Yahoo) work at Google just blew my mind. (Or how equality can be achieved by someone denying all association with feminism)

Full article

"Mayer more or less agrees with the aims of movement feminists, only she goes about achieving them in unorthodox ways. During her tenure at Google, she took pains to accommodate working mothers, only she did in a way that did not give them special status. (She allowed employees to identify their personal priorities, so a mom could leave early for a kid’s soccer game and a young man with no kids could leave early for a weekly potluck dinner with his old college roommates). She could have passed a special policy for working mothers. But Mayer’s way seems more viable in a world in which men and women compete equally for scholarships and jobs and are moving toward sharing domestic responsibilities, too."

submitted by DavidNatan to MensRights
[link] [74 comments]

Posted on 5 March 2013

AmA request: Marissa Mayer

Here's Marissa Mayer's wikipedia

I have a few questions:

  • Why did you leave Google ?

  • Does being a mother change the way you perceive your role as a CEO ?

  • How can Yahoo compete with Google in online adversiting without successful interconnected platforms like youtube/gmail ?

  • Do you think that, as a woman & a mom, your type of management is different from other CEOs ?

  • Would you call yourself a geek ?

  • Any Ted conference that you would recommend ?

submitted by howls_electricity to IAmA
[link] [29 comments]

Posted on 19 February 2013

Politics without suppression

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Posted on 25 September 2009


For all things technology. [link]

Posted on 24 January 2008


/r/business brings you the best of your business section. From tips for running a business, to pitfalls to avoid, /r/business teaches you the smart moves and helps you dodge the foolish. [link]

Posted on 17 September 2007

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