Everybody has an angle to write about Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer.
She has “shattered the glass ceiling,” has started the “maternity leave debate,” Yahoo has “learned (lessons) from Playboy,” her “soft maternity leave” scares people (on behalf of her child), she needs to “fix Flickr,” she has a personal shopper that buys her all of seasonal fashions, she “wins hearts,” she “can’t have it all,” is either a “savior or symbol,” – on and on.
When writers have exhausted all platitudes and non-sequiturs, they’ll probably realize that the Yahoo board of directors is still the schizophrenic group it has always been, and that Yahoo has morphed into an email provider that has a lot of money tied up in content creation. Earnings continue to decrease, and Yahoo has divested their interest in Alibaba while settling lawsuits that had potential for large one-time windfall payments. And their “partner” Bing is siphoning off their search traffic.
Immediately before “product-focused” Mayer was recruited into the role, “content-focused” Hulu CEO Jason Kilar was the leading candidate, and now the board has given Mayer the directive to beat Google and Facebook. Good luck with that since Yahoo doesn’t even compete in the same space as those two anymore.
I love a good human interest story, but the real story is that Marissa Mayer is in a dire situation. She has done some amazing things with Google and will be a really interesting person to follow during her time as Yahoo CEO (who knows how long that might be?), but she is an emergency room surgeon who has inherited a cadaver and is being asked to resuscitate it into an Olympic athlete. Even if she developed a plan that could accomplish a resurgence in advertising revenue, one wonders if the Yahoo board would allow her to change anything so radically?
As for people’s concerns about her pregnancy and potential time off of work, it begs the question if anyone has been paying attention to Yahoo recently? This place could run itself. The interim, fired and resigned CEOs have been comical – it will probably be shocking to Yahoo employees to have a CEO go away briefly and then come back.
And as for concerns about her kid, Miller is worth $300 million. She could build a building on the MIT campus and he could have a doctorate by 13. Her kid is going to be fine – please sleep easy tonight.
Her company will not be fine, however. It hasn’t been for a long time.