The rumor mill is churning harder than ever about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Although she’s managed to become Yahoo's longest tenured CEO in recent history -- before she took the reins the company had had six chiefs in as many years -- the clamor is growing for her to be replaced.
Indeed, Mayer (pictured above) is taking a hit for Yahoo’s less-than-stellar stock market performance. There’s no fudging the numbers. The company’s stock is down more than 30 percent this year and her move to make investors happy by selling its stake in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba may not pan out in the end -- or at least not quickly enough to save her skin.
In September, 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.
"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."
Those are strong words but some even stronger ones followed. In October, Eric Jackson, managing director of Ader Investment Management who had historically supported Mayer, called for her resignation in a Real Money op-ed titled, “Why Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer Must Go.” He outlined 12 concerns based on Yahoo's Q3 2015 earnings call alone.
“Mayer commonly throws in words on her call such as ‘as you know’ and ‘as we discussed on our last call,’” he wrote. “This kind of language is the height of arrogance and disdain toward shareholders and analysts. What she's saying is essentially ‘don't complain, you idiots, I've carefully telegraphed that it would take 40 months to have no progress to speak of . . . so don't question my turnaround.’"
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.
But it seems patience is wearing thin on the turnaround. Now, people are actually calling out names of people who could replace her, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandlberg, former Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn, CBS Interactive president and CEO Jim Lanzone, and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.
Will Yahoo Drop the Hammer?
We caught up with Greg Sterling, vice president of strategy and insight at the Local Search Association, to get his thoughts on the growing speculation around Mayer’s demise at Yahoo. Like all CEOs, Mayer has made mistakes but overall she has done a very good job reviving the Yahoo brand and invigorating the company, he told us.
“I doubt another CEO would have been able to do better with the company she inherited,” Sterling said. “Yahoo's problems and challenges are ‘structural’: Google on the one side, Facebook on the other and board members and investors with limited vision and tolerance for risk.”
Sterling did not ultimately predict whether Mayer would step down or be terminated. But he did offer some insight into what could happen if she parts ways with the company. “If Mayer is replaced it will likely be a prelude to a sale, AOL-Verizon style, to a larger entity,” he said.
Posted: 2015-12-01 @ 1:27pm PT
Alan R. Mulally has served as a member of Alphabet’s board of directors since October 2015 and has served as a member of Google’s board of directors since July 2014. Alan served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Ford Motor Company, a global automotive company, from September 2006 through June 2014. Alan was previously a member of the board of directors of Ford and served on its finance committee from September 2006 through June 2014. From March 2001 to September 2006, Alan served as Executive Vice President of the Boeing Company and President and Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Inc. He also was a member of the Boeing Executive Council. Prior to that time, he served as President of Boeing’s space and defense business. Alan served as co-chair of the Washington Competitiveness Council and sat on the advisory boards of NASA, the University of Washington, the University of Kansas, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of England’s Royal Academy of Engineering. Alan holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from the University of Kansas, and a Master’s degree in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a 1982 Alfred P. Sloan fellow.