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3.16.2016

Marissa Mayer getting the axe?


Marissa Mayer was interviewed on Charlie Rose last week.

As nice and polite as he tried to be, Rose didn't exactly hold back with his questions, pointing out that she assumed the position of CEO at Yahoo with great fanfare and high expectations due to her performance at Google, and many feel that her performance has fallen well short of the mark.

In response to the question "What did you do wrong" Marissa says that "the story hasn't played out".
She makes the point that she had only 50 engineers working on mobile when she started 3-4 years ago, a number that she's now increased to 500.  She's very happy to heap the blame for where Yahoo is today on the state of the company when she started.  And perhaps it's due.

She seemed really pushed into the corner with a lot of her questions and answered on the defensive; Rose: "Was there a big bet that you did not make that you wished you'd made?"
Mayer (pursing her lips): "We did make a lot big bets."

"I'm very proud of......" is a phrase Mayer repeated several times throughout the interview, and in response to his statement that Yahoo doesn't rank in the top five tech companies (including apple, google, Amazon, FaceBook, Microsoft), she says that Yahoo IS big.  "Over 1/2 of your viewers will use a Yahoo product today."  Yahoo has 600 million mobile users which puts them in the top five businesses (for that criteria).  Additionally, she points out that only three US based companies have more than a billion users--Yahoo, Google and FB.  (And it's hard to generate growth, if they're already so huge).  The three reasons that people come to Yahoo are for search, mail and digital content.

She admits, however to the possibility of her moving on.

Some of the interview felt like bullshit; she's way too quick to answer difficult questions.  When Rose asks her; "what has been the learning experience for Marissa" she says things like "I get to learn everyday....it's been amazing....an incredible experience." ugh

The mistakes she admits to had to do with pacing - "Some things we did too quickly.  Some we probably did too slowly and not enough."  One accusation that's been made of her performance is that she's not making fundamental changes to Yahoo, she's just making a better Yahoo.

Marissa sees Yahoo's biggest asset it's audience, and hopes and believes that "Yahoo can become a vital part of everybody's day on their phone....add a lot of whimsey...utility.....make lives easier"  Most people see value of Yahoo in terms of Asian assets - it owns 20% of Alibaba, which is valued at more than $25 billion.

A great quote; "You can't have everything that you want.  But you can have everything that matters to you," she speaks in reference to her family and Yahoo.  Really worth listening to this interview.  Interesting to note that Mayer can program, she can code, she is a computer scientist (unlike ehm, Steve Jobs).

Yahoo confuses me.  As Mayer points out, it does seem fundamental to one's experience of the internet (I'm one of those people who uses a Yahoo product everyday) yet imo unfortunately so; I hate their tabloid-esque news and the e-mail is painfully annoying to use compared to gmail.  So unlike Apple, which is a like gourmet food, Yahoo feels like the fast food restaurant a block away that you hate but go to anyway because it's cheap and close.

Where's my money?  She gets the axe.  And Yahoo continues to flounder (can you believe when Mayer started she was the 7th CEO in 61 months?) as the once-foundational-now-well-kind-of-clueless-big-business-with-a-20%-share-in-Alibaba.

We'll see.

(more to read on the interview here)
Vanity Fair Marissa Mayer Article



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