Recently, Yahoo has been in the news in the wake of announcing that they have hired a new CEO – Marissa Mayer, known as a public face and long-time employee of Google. You may well have forgotten all about Yahoo – the New York Times reports Yahoo’s net income fell 4.2% compared to the second quarter of 2011. Yahoo has had five CEOs in five years and hasn’t really made a big splash since it failed to get purchased by Microsoft. SearchEngineLand reported on July 13th that according to the latest comScore report, Google has a market share in search of 66.8%. Bing is second at 15.6% and Yahoo fell from 13.4 to 13% in May.
Despite the clear continued downfall of Yahoo, once one of the darlings of the online world, the hiring of Marissa Mayer has not spawned much speculation on how the 37-year-old will save the company. Instead, the focus has been on the fact that a) she’s a woman and b) she’s pregnant (she’s expecting her first child in October). Here is a small sampling of the articles that appeared last week.
Marissa Mayer: Yahoo’s New CEO Reignites Working Mother Debate (Christian Science Monitor)
What Signal is Marissa Mayer Giving to Yahoo Employees (CNN – this is mostly about her maternity leave)
If you’re interested in the possible future of the struggling company, none of this information is particularly useful. The articles cited above focus almost exclusively on Mayer’s gender and impending motherhood. Many articles we read don’t even mention what she did during her 13-year tenure at Google.
The Business Scoop
If you sort through the articles dealing with babies, Mayer’s extravagant wedding, and whether her maternity leave will be too short, too long, or just right, you are able to find a few interesting tidbits about what Mayer may bring to Yahoo, although Business Week notes she is keeping her specific plans rather quiet for now. We thought this note from the same Business Week article was rather interesting:
One area of opportunity is mobile, which none of the major tech powers has conquered the way Google dominates conventional Internet search ads. Consumers may have flocked to smartphones and tablets; advertisers haven’t been won over—yet. That gives Mayer a plausible opening to leverage Yahoo’s traditional strengths (e.g., Yahoo! Sports) and revive some of its once-hot properties (its photo-sharing site Flickr comes to mind).
Another business-centric article we found was from USA Today, which notes three primary challenges Mayer will face as Yahoo’s CEO. Ultimately, Mayer needs to figure out Yahoo’s brand, which is number two on USA Today’s list. Yahoo is clearly not in a position to overtake Google’s stranglehold on the search industry, and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus have leapfrogged Yahoo’s desire to make search more personal. Bing has already cozied up to Facebook with the “social search” feature that shows friends’ recommendations as you type searches into the search engine. Where does Yahoo fit? If Mayer can answer that question and run with a plan, she could be a real Silicon Valley hero and Yahoo could once again become a company to watch.
The Downside of Mayer’s Hiring
Not everything is rosy about Marissa Mayer. In all of the excitement that Yahoo hired a woman “even though” she was pregnant, it’s easy to miss concerns that are being verbalized regarding Mayer’s lack of leadership experience. This article from Forbes Magazine cites several sources that question Mayer’s leadership experience. Some have lightly insinuated that Mayer got to where she was at Google because she once dated co-founder Larry Page. Then of course others simply point to the fact that Yahoo has failed to keep a CEO for any meaningful length of time for the last five years. Sometimes streaks are hard to break.
We will be watching Yahoo carefully to track how Mayer impacts the company. Very little, if any, of our focus will rest on her baby presents, names for her baby, how many days she takes for maternity leave, how many hours she may work during her maternity leave, or anything else related to her gender or parental status. We’re interested in perpetually shifting world of the search engine world. That’s enough to keep us busy. How about you?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/4036278304/ via Creative Commons