When Yahoo appointed Marissa Mayer as CEO three years ago, the industry was buzzing. Many thought she could turn around the ailing company. This week, some are calling for her dismissal.
Mayer joined Yahoo as president and CEO and member of the board of directors effective July 17, 2012. At the time, a bullish Yahoo said the addition of Mayer, who was well known in industry circles as a leading consumer Internet executive, signaled a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience and advertising.
Mayer came to Yahoo from Google, where she was responsible for Local, Maps, and Location Services, as well as the company’s suite of local and geographical products including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile. She was Google’s 20th employee.
“Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development,” Yahoo co-founder David Filo said at the time. “I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo's product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”
Did Mayer Fail Yahoo?
So what went wrong? Well, Yahoo didn’t see the mass turnaround it expected. Still, Yahoo has seen improvement during Mayer’s tenure. The company’s revenue grew year-over-year in the second quarter and she has introduced plenty of improvements to the company’s search, mail and digital content products. She’s also made key acquisitions, like the social media network Tumblr.
But Mayer has also had some setbacks. Yahoo on Tuesday withdrew its request for an IRS ruling on its plan for a tax-free spin off, of its stake in e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. That caused shares to fall 3.8 percent and some of her critics to talk.
“Yahoo’s board of directors will continue to carefully consider the company’s options, including proceeding with the spin-off transaction on the basis of an opinion of counsel,” the company said in a regulatory filing, according to Bloomberg.
Off Death Row Because of Twins
Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, told Bloomberg Surveillance that if she hadn’t announced she was pregnant with twins, she'd be out of a job within six months. As he sees it, she’s the most overpaid CEO in history.
Strong words, but perhaps not as strong as these: "I don't think any board in America right now in technology that's as visible as Yahoo wants to be seen as not leaning in," Galloway said, alluding to the book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead" by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg. "She got a reprieve from death row because she's pregnant with twins." Yahoo could not immediately be reached for comment.
We caught up with Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, to get his perspective on the speculation. Is Mayer Yahoo’s problem? He told us the issue with a new CEO is that the individual need lots of mentoring particularly if that person is young and lacks depth of experience.
“That mentoring is to come from the board and Yahoo's board simply didn't step up to this task, as a result Mayer thrashed as she tried to figure out what the job entailed and how to do it,” Enderle said. ”Replacing Mayer without fixing the board will likely only change the nature of the failure, it won't fix the company.”
Posted: 2016-01-07 @ 10:24am PT
Marissa Mayer's dismissal cannot come too soon. She allowed Yahoo e-mail to become a disaster. Many communication features of the previous format prior to 2013 were dropped. There was a hue and cry from many people about the disaster including me. It was ignored.