Yahoo Is No Longer Dead To Me

A few months I threw a public hissy fit and declared on this blog that Yahoo is dead to me. And they were.

But in four months since I wrote that post, they did some good things.

1) they asked the CEO who led them down the patent troll route to leave the company

2) they invited some smart shareholder activists on the Board

3) they settled with Facebook and abandoned the patent troll route

4) and yesterday they selected Marissa Mayer as their new CEO

That's a string of good decisions culiminating in the wooing of Marissa. As Marc Andreessen said in this interview yesterday, "I didn't think they could get someone like Marissa".

The Yahoo! board went out and got Marissa to lead the company. And they kept their mouths shut in the process and the news surprised everyone. That's how you run a company, a board, and a process. Well done.

It feels like a new leaf has been turned. Marissa has a tough job turning around a company that has had failed leadership forever. I have not worked closely with Marissa but I have seen her up close. She is serious, intense, crisp, data driven, and opinionated. When I think of Marissa, I think of this Jim Barksdale quote:

"If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine."

That approach should serve her well. I wish her and Yahoo! luck and I am rooting for them.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Julien

    HahA! Was it dead to you before that?All jokes aside, the amount of work ahead of Y! is just tremendous, but I guess they’re at a point where they almost have a white sheet in front of them. I hope they do not jump on the “social” bandwagon. The web needs better!



  2. Frank Fuchs

    I’d agree there is light at the end of the tunnel. But the biggest obstacle I see & I call it the “that’s just the way it is” desease, where employees accept the most ridicules things, like incoherent analytics across products or 20 different CMS systems across the world. Yahoo! suffers from it just as much as Microsoft. Can Y! be turned around? YES but it is quite a mountain to climb. And time will tell. But bottom line this is the best news from Y! since 06

    1. Robert Holtz

      Very well said and I agree on all points. I think MM has the guts to deal with it. The company is overgrown and everyone knows it. She has to make cuts… that seems just about completely unavoidable. But there is also a great number of people still there that are good high-quality team members who are just hungry for some real leadership and now they’ve finally got it.

    2. JamesHRH

      That light is a train – RIM stock anyone?

  3. teegee

    love the quote.Will be very interesting to see how she does!

    1. fredwilson

      isn’t it great? i love it too.

      1. Robert Holtz

        Love that Barksdale quote. Can’t wait to use that in-context sometime soon. 🙂 Thanks Fred!

  4. Cam MacRae

    And… her M.S. Comp. Sci. is a matter of public record!

    1. fredwilson


    2. Kirsten Lambertsen


  5. jason wright


    1. fredwilson

      yup. won’t happen fast



        1. MikeSchinkel

          @FakeGrimlock:disqus Should that be “GARGANTUAN TEASE?” 🙂

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          2. MikeSchinkel

            Exxactly. 😉

  6. Rohan

    I’m sure other companies have that look we all have when we see a couple where one looks waaaaaayyyy out of the league of the other…. in a good way. 😉

  7. Donna Brewington White

    I am excited to see what Marissa Mayer will do.When I heard the news, Yahoo! immediately went to a different place in my perception.Now if Yahoo! could just change its name.

    1. jason wright

      Your doing? 🙂

        1. John Revay

          Jim is a trustee at Wesleyan University

          1. fredwilson

            i have two children at wesleyan right now

          2. John Revay

            Yup – you lead a public (naked) life I recall you have two partners that are alumns.I got the sense it is a good place to learn & grow. I wonder what Jim’s connection is – perhaps he has children which are attending.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Ha — just noticed that @GothamGal:disqus is wearing sunglasses. We must be in the cool club.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        So flattered that you would suggest that. Not quite swimming in those waters. But not for lack of ability, I might add. 😉

        1. Richard

          Can you explain the process, time ? Approach ? Etc.

          1. Donna Brewington White


          2. Richard

            Recruiting away such a high profile google senior exec

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. Donna Brewington White

            If only…

          5. Donna Brewington White

            I read that the search was 9 weeks. That’s relatively brief.

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Also @samedaydr:disqus the high profile execs are easier to identify due to visibility and are sometimes more poised to make a move than the mid-level exec. With the former, the challenge is not always so much attracting them to the role, but actually sealing the deal — all the negotiation that takes place once the final candidate is identified.Even with all the risk associated with Yahoo! it is an extraordinary career move. Regardless of what happens, she will be better poised for a CEO role elsewhere based on what she learns in this role — whether through successes or failures. She is now in the CEO camp. Its a new world for her from here on out.

          7. William Mougayar

            I’d say so. What’s the average time for this level of position?

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Agreed. The passion and life/liveliness of Marissa Mayer transfered over to Yahoo!The name’s fine as a brand. They need to use it differently though.

  8. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I know nothing of her pedigree but the plaudits she seems to be accruing and the (positive) shock this has caused is intriguing.Being a user of Yahoo from the very early days – my Yahoo email is even carlg@ (I just missed out on ‘carl’ lol) – and having used their small business services for too long, probably, I thought my recent abandoning of Flickr was a sign of things to come.Interesting times ahead…

  9. LIAD

    Sentiment yesterday on her appointment was unbelievable.Sensible, knowledgable people were talking about her singlehanded ability to resurrect Yahoo in terms of innovation, ability to attract/retain talent, profitability and more.Incredible that a single person can inspire such confidence and belief in their abilities to achieve what others could not.It’s buoying to all of us with oversized dreams and ambitions

    1. fredwilson

      part of it is that yahoo has sunk so low that you are seeing a huge sigh of relief as much as anything.

      1. Richard

        Fred: thoughts on Steven Covey?

        1. Brad

          Nice to see a mention of him on AVC, he was a good family friend of ours. My dad co-authored a chapter with him in his latest book. The paper in Idaho called and asked my dad for some background of their 50 year friendship, you can see it on the right side of the article here http://www.idahostatesman.c

        2. Owen

          He is a model for how to live our lives. After all, it is the journey, not the destination.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK




    2. awaldstein

      A great comment Liad.I’ve heard the same messages from friends who know her. I don’t.This is one really tough job.

    3. Rohan

      I was amazed by that too, Liad.In many ways, she stands for many positive things – success, women in tech, mom, leader etc. And that’s testament to what she’s achieved..Very cool that she’s able to inspire an almost messianic reaction..



    4. Max Yoder

      America loves an underdog.

      1. Yaniv Tal

        yahoo for president!

        1. Max Yoder

          If Mitt Romney picked Yahoo for his VP, it would take the “corporations are people” debate to an amazing new level.

    5. Brandon Marker

      the smile on their workforce’s faces yesterday was better than the great press. They deserved something positive.

      1. Dale Allyn

        Yes! That’s the human element here. A company the size of Yahoo! is not only about the stock price and market share.



  10. Mark Essel

    What is Yahoo’s core competency? Marissa will have a heckuva job clarifying and cultivating the answer to that question

    1. JamesHRH

      Why use any Yahoo product if you don’t use it now?

    2. falicon

      I think originally it was actually ‘classification’…but since the ‘destination’ days of the late 90s, I believe it to be more around ‘editorial’ now (ie. in my mind they are the most like a pure digital newspaper than anything else — the only people I know who still go to Yahoo! are ‘normals’ and this is basically how they experience it).Funny enough, I think it’s the fact that they still connect with so many ‘normals’ that they really do continue to have a shot at fixing all the problems…but it will def. start with picking a focus and setting a direction. Do they go back to ‘search’? Do they focus on ‘news’? Do they focus on gaming (their fantasy business is still doing quite well)? Do they focus on tools (yahoo mail still has a large user base too)? Etc. Etc. Etc.The good news is they have lots of options…and with strong leadership, they can finally take advantage of the ones they want (and trim the rest)…

      1. JamesHRH

        Is ‘ lots of options ‘ a secret code for ‘ our core business sucks so bad that any other direction is better ‘ ?

        1. falicon


        2. ShanaC

          what is their core business?

          1. Mark Essel

            rapidly replacing ceos

        3. Mark Essel


    3. Matt A. Myers

      From my overview of where I’ve seen Yahoo try to go over the years, Marissa is the perfect fit for being the leader / guide with the holistic understanding needed to be a proper guide.

    4. CJ

      They don’t have one. They’re a mortally wounded giant with a bunch of cash that will have to buy its way back to relevancy. Marissa’s job, in my opinion, comes down to being properly able to deploy cash in strategic areas for maximum value return. In essence, she’s going to become Chief VC of Yahoo. I hope she can pick winners.

      1. JamesHRH

        agree – although Chief iBanker is more likely the faux title. Acquired relevance seems most probable path…

      2. ShanaC

        that could be interesting, because much like vc, we don’t know what the future holds.

      3. Mark Essel

        AOL style, buy back a touch of competitive spirit. That could keep them in the game a few more innings.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK






      1. MikeSchinkel

        @FakeGrimlock:disqus “YAHOO IS CMS OF INTERNET”I’d REALLY love to hear you elaborate on that. Seriously.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      2. William Mougayar

        True. When I think of Yahoo! now, I think of CONTENT. 3 years ago, it was different.

  11. Anne Libby

    And they made history by hiring a pregnant CEO.(Save Flickr!)

    1. andyswan

      That really is quite amazing.I would buy a book or watch a show or read a blog by her that just chronicled the detail of her days on “Maternity Leave”.Go MM!

    2. Matt A. Myers

      (Disclosure: I’m fully joking)This is brilliant marketing! It’s Steve Job’s “and one more thing…”And back to non-joking.The reality is she is a spectacular person. Sure, she’s a women – and sure, the more mentors the better, though what I would like to see is how Yahoo is going to treat her maternity leave, how she set things up to be treated, etc..One thing to note is that Marissa seems to have a very good grip on how to be a balanced person, how to maintain a balanced life. If anyone’s seen her talk about her belief that burnout is relating to resentment will understand what I mean. This is a very insightful thing, and really should be integrated into everyone’s life – work and personal. Resentment is a powerful thing, it’s a very deep seed that can form and that will grow into hatred that touches everything in a person’s life. Eliminate that source and you will have happy people.My request: I want to see how Yahoo’s culture changes with her there.

    3. Lisa Mogull

      A pregnant CEO who is an engineer. It’s all good.

    4. fredwilson

      i left out the woman CEO, hiring a pregnant woman, etc, etcthat’s all awesome and enlightened and i am thrilled about itbut at the end of the day, they also hired the person they thought was the best fit for the job. and that’s how it should be.

      1. brmore

        But as the dad of daughters, I’m just a little bit pleased that the best fit happened to be a smart as heck woman 🙂

      2. Aaron Klein

        +1 as historic and thrilling of a choice as that was, I appreciated the tone of your post. She clearly wasn’t selected for those reasons. She was selected because she is whip smart and can build great products.I really hope they haven’t found the source of the Kara Swisher leaks because I want to read about this. 🙂

        1. LE

          “she is whip smart and can build great products.”As @JLM:disqus will probably confirm flying an airplane is different than being able to handle takeoff, landing, and problems that arise. Anyone can be handed the controls of a small aircraft and fly it in good weather. (Same with boating by the way).MM has little experience outside of google. She rode the rocket that google provided and did (from what I read as I don’t know more about her than what I’ve read obviously) great things there.The skills required in making yahoo great are different skills. She very well may have those skills. She may be able to spark enthusiasm and hope at yahoo that will allow them to hire better people. She may do acquisitions (part of the reason I think Fred is so happy possibly.) I see her hiring as a positive for me personally (I make some money off of Yahoo with domains).That said Yahoo is an organization with plenty of people that are already there and there is no low hanging fruit opportunity that MM will be able to come in and save the day with. All the easy stuff has been tried already. The other people didn’t suck that much. If they did they would never have made it through the vetting process and have been hired. They didn’t get the job because of nepotism. There isn’t any secret sauce at google that she knows that the rest of the world didn’t know that can be transferred to yahoo. (Not to mention possible handcuffs of an NDA what about that whole issue?)She may very well have some things up her sleeve. Things that were brewing prior to the Yahoo board contacting her in the middle of June. So she may have been thinking for the past few years “boy if I was in charge of yahoo here is what I would do”. So she may hit the ground running and do some great things.In any case I don’t think this is something that involves “building great products” or that she really is the person to do that.Here is what the WSJ says:”she has been credited with crafting the distinctive “look and feel” common across many Google products”I simply think that underestimates the issue at hand at Yahoo.Lastly as an interesting aside I don’t think anyone other than people in tech care that Yahoo is Yahoo. They don’t obsess over anything about the company or it’s market share or anything like that. They will either use the products if they are good or not use them. The business world is to focused on market share and mindset and buzz. Normals don’t think nor do they care about that. (You don’t see press about car market share up down or sideways do you? Nor do you care when you buy a car you buy it on what it can do for you or how it makes you feel).Here’s an idea for Yahoo (I raised this a few years ago somewhere). Open retail stores to showcase all the Yahoo products and to make it easier for mom and pops to buy advertising and for regular people to use Yahoo products. Maybe even sell some hardware at the store or some other hard goods. Put the brand in the forefront of people’s mind. Don’t think of it as retail think of it as advertising.

          1. Aaron Klein

            The question boils down to…did she ride the rocket?Or did she build it?

          2. LE

            “did she build it?”Also whose idea was it to do a rocket and who designed the rocket.Jobs (really hate to use him but everyone can relate) may not have had the idea to do the products that (later >98) made apple great. May have been some engineer or maybe a Parc like thing he saw something and as the rumour goes “made it his idea”. But in the end (combined with luck and timing) there is no question that Jobs was the glue that made it all happen I believe that’s commonly accepted. So he was able to recognize a good thing and make it happen.There are many levels of participation where MM could win here. It’s just that google is a large company with many players who contributed many things. And we don’t know how it all fit together. Like we know Larry and Sergey made google but we don’t know what they could do if not together on that scale. Just like we don’t know what goes on behind doors at USV with the partners.One thing you never know when hiring someone who did anything great is to what extent the person was involved in the success and whether it can be duplicated without those other people assisting.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          4. JamesHRH

            What about ‘almost sure to fail’?

          5. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          6. JLM

            .Nail. Hammer. Hit.Well played..

          7. JamesHRH

            Larry has clearly classified her as a passenger.I second @JLM – precise, concise and a slice. NICE.

          8. Dave Pinsen

            I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of “look & feel” here. Google’s spare home page keeps downloads fast; Yahoo’s home page, with its clutter and video ads is the opposite. Yahoo would benefit from Mayer taking a machete to the home page.That said, the odds are still against Mayer, as today’s FT Lex column noted:If there is one thing we know about the consumer internet business, however, it’s that it is very hard to reverse [market] share losses (just ask Tim Armstrong, the brilliant Google sales executive who has been trying to turn round AOL about this).

          9. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          10. MikeSchinkel

            Tim Armstrong is a brilliant sales executive. But a sales guy needs a product want to buy to be successful. MM is a brilliant product person which is what Yahoo has needed for years.I can’t wait to see what MM does with Flickr and the rest here:…I expect MM to get rid of most of those products and focus on the generating value from ones that have real potential instead of letting the good ones languish like past CEOs have. Yahoo has some of the best technologists out there, ones who championed and built technologies for the web that past CEOs ignored:…The next 2-3 years are going to be very interesting. I predict that Yahoo will once again become viewed as one of the top 10 companies in tech like how Google, Facebook and Apple are currently viewed and like Yahoo was “back in the day.”P.S. I bet this news will stem defections and allow their recruiters to get their mojo back, too!

          11. Timothy Meade

            Google differentiated by being blank, but busy is yahoo’s signature. The question is now can they build a busy but relavant home page. And they can, move login functionality to the default page, not a ‘portal’ (And graphics don’t cost that much now, Larry’s not a burning man and it’s not running of a machine at stanford, Google does it out of habit and that it worked.

          12. Timothy Meade

            Retail store?I think the easier solution is to collapse most of the Yahoo products into one, goes away and is replaced with a logged in home. When logged in your home is customized with your stories, your email summary and fantasy stats, and of course, ads that should appeal to you. Remove banner ads from mail (risky) and finish the transition to a thick client. Take the gems like TV (which also powers some DVRs), movies, finance, and sports and enhance their brands, geolocation, and utility (her core strength is UX, build a top notch team). Buy Oayu or take a huge stake in it, buy a large portion of NFLX in a PE deal, transition to Yahoo datacenters before being a tenant of your direct competitor becomes untenable for them. Sell search to Microsoft and encourage a spin off JV with Bing (optional). Spin off stores as an ecommerce platform with new tech. Build a real retargeting ad engine with emphasis on media partners. Buy some exclusive features or wire access and rebuild the news product to actually be a destination again.But first, REBRAND YAHOO drop the ! From the name (not the logo), drop the old. Kill products that thrived when Java applets were new. (Tied into Oayu as a free to play game portal) (And if you don’t belive me play Chinese Checkers on Yahoo Games sometimes, it’s the exact same application I first saw in 1996) Buy imo.I’m or clone it as a replacement for Y messenger and as an enterprise messenging play, buy at this stage and integrate it carefully.Protect Flickr at all costs as a labor of love and to keep your users loyal, build. Or buy a mobile photo app to fill the void left by Instagram.Adopt a privacy policy that respects users, come out for stronger protections for users, build a lasting partnershbip with Apple and supply every core technology piece you can on iOS.Remove stupid limitations on your mail product and start targetting the hier end again who long since defected to gmail. Why? Mail drives customization drives personalitization and targeting.Do something with Zimbio, build an enterprise communication suite and push it to your users.

      3. JamesHRH

        The gender & pregnancy stuff should not be highlighted, IMO.People need to stop being so thrilled & shake off the shackles of the past. Of course they hired her while she was pregnant – they are lucky to get someone with her credibility and the new BoD seems to recognize that fact.

        1. LE

          “gender & pregnancy stuff should not be highlighted”Agree. And to the peanut gallery that is so excited with this choice of MM I say put your money where your mouth is. Buy some of the stock. If you believe the right decision has been made, to the point of being super enthusiastic about it, then buy the stock and hold on to it for a few years and let’s see if this was the right decision or not.Yahoo is a company with shareholders and needs to do what is best for the company for the employees and shareholders. This is not about anything other than that.

          1. John Rorick

            Just because I think the company does not have a chance in hell does not mean I think she was/is not a very capable leader, and that her pregnancy and child care will not be a factor in whether or not it could have thrived. I am in between @fredwilson ‘s previous view of yahoo’s death and his current sense that is has a pulse. Yahoo! is a zombie to me.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Great point.I’d buy stock in Marissa Mayer. Not sure about Yahoo.Is that the same thing?

          3. LE

            @fredwilson:disqus @donnawhite:disqusHoly shit! That’s a fascinating idea. But not for MM. She’s established.Why not figure out a way that someone can invest in young entrepreneurs with the payback being a chunk of what they create going forward no matter what that is. Similar to the idea of funding teams not ideas. Kinda like a genius grant. But with payback. Tied to a particular individual.The equation that needs to be solved is “I will give you $__,000 , in exchange you grant me _________ of ____ for ____ time period”.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Brilliant!Human Capital?

          5. MikeSchinkel

            @LE Because it could easily devolve into being indentured servitude unless it was done extremely carefully, and even then I’d be afraid of what could result.

          6. LE

            “devolve into being indentured servitude”Examples? How so?

          7. MikeSchinkel

            I can’t give examples because AFAIK there are no examples. But I can project what could and likely would happen.Marissa Mayer would almost certainly know better than to let herself be “invested in” in the manner described; why should she give up her own equity? She knows how much she is worth, why discount it?No, the people most likely willing to allow themselves to be invested in are the young with little money and no experience with or understanding of the ramifications of such investment. So someone gets offered $75k for 20% ownership in their future results for the next 15 years. They are 22, just out of college and working at StarBucks while they work on their startup. Are they going to take it? Hell ya!Then they get start full steam on their startup. But in 12 months they’ve blown through their $75k with general expenses, a salary for another person, and living expenses. So they “suck in the gut” and keep pushing for another 6 months, but it all falls apart. Now what to do?In today’s scenario they’d go find another job, maybe at Starbucks and decide for themselves how long it will take to regroup, or even if they really want to try again.If they have been “invested in” their “investor” is hounding them; “What are you doing to give me a return?” They are in a hole, the investor won’t get them anymore money but they’ve been beaten down by the last experience and have no confidence.Maybe they meet “the one” and decide they’d really rather get a job at BigCo and focus on career and family instead of on Startup. But the investor goes “No, you can’t do that. But if you do I need 20% of your income, before taxes.” How do you think “the one” is going to feel about that?Maybe their mother is diagnosed with cancer and they decide to take off the next year to care for her. But the investor says “No you won’t, you are my investment and I won’t allow you all this time off. Or pay back my money and I will,” but there is no money to pay back.Or maybe they get burned out and have no inspiration left. They decide the best thing to do is backpack across Europe for 6 months. But the investor says “No you con’t, you are my investment and I won’t allow you all this time off. Or pay back my money and I will,” but there is no money to pay back.Or they want to take a two week vacation, but the investor says “No you con’t, you are my investment and I won’t allow you all this time off.” And if they do the investor doesn’t to make their ongoing like a living hell.They would have similar situations when running a startup that an investor chose to invest in, but since an investor can’t (currently) “own” a person the person could choose to leave the startup if they really needed to. If the person is the investment, they can’t.Hell, if I could invest in people like this, had a thousand times more money than I really need to live comfortably, and I had absolutely no ethics, morals or scruples (which describes far too many people, IMO) then I’d go hunting for the brightest kids in college and do my best to invest in every one of them, and hire a team to manage them to ensure the pressure is on every single one of them to give me an incredible return. But fortunately at least one of those pre-requisites are not true.So, investing in people purely as an investor is not a good thing. Therein lies evil personified.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Ha ha! When I first saw this comment in my email, I saw Fred’s name and thought this was from him. I was going to send Fred an email to ask if this meant he would possibly fund an idea like this — given that he was so excited about it. He would have thought I was crazy. Glad I looked at the comment online first. So, how about you? You want to fund it?

        2. Dave Pinsen

          Agreed. And I’d add that Fred’s decision not to highlight it, and to focus on her talents instead, will do more to ‘change the ratio’ than the affectation of using a default female pronoun.Barry Sanders never spiked the ball when he scored a touchdown in the NFL; he just handed it to the referee. His father had told him, “act like you’ve been there before”.

          1. JamesHRH

            I am not a huge fan of the female pronoun being used by men. Women should use it when discussing an unknown 3P, that seems to make some sense.That’s a Bear Bryant saying, I believe & a favourite of mine (it goes hand in hand w the Barksdale quote, for me).

          2. Timothy Meade

            I see it as something that’s pervasive in computer science, as if wishful thinking would fix our problem. I saw it when I was thirteen and taking my first college CS class, there was one woman in my class and the professor was female, the textbook used female gendered pronouns in almost every application and generic female names in a lot of other places.The other way to look at it is the legacy of Ada and Adm. Hopper being used as inspriational anecdotes and shaping our culture. The solution is to fix the ration, not our language.

          3. FAKE GRIMLOCK


      4. LE

        “hiring a pregnant woman, etc, etcthat’s all awesome and enlightened”I disagree. It’s a handicap. This is not a TV show or an elected position or a supreme court appointment. This is running a company that everyone in tech is bellyaching about (more on that whole issue later).Factors to consider in decision making are either positive, negative, or neutral. Given what she is doing (she isn’t running a company catering to a certain segment of the population for which it will be a positive if she is pregnant and have benefits from that perspective (baby products or a female marketing company)) I see this as a negative. It’s not going to make things any easier on her.That is not to say that she should not have been given the job. Or that I wouldn’t have given her the job if I was part of the decision process (so hold off all the hate…) But I don’t agree that it matters at all that Yahoo is enlightened or that there is anything good about it from the perspective of, and this is most important, the employees or stockholders of the company. And I’m not saying that what ever positives that she brings to the job aren’t worth the potential issues (more on that later..).She has a tremendous job ahead and she needs to be firing on all cylinders. Being pregnant with your first child at 37 is an issue and will be a distraction. And that’s assuming that the child is healthy hopefully and doesn’t have any issues.Here’s the conversation I had with my wife this morning, it went like this:M: “Do you know who Marissa Mayer is?”W: “No”.M: “She was a big deal at google, employee number 20”.W: “These are your friends, not mine…”M: “She was hired by Yahoo to turn them around”W: “Yahoo is always trying to hire people to turn them around”M: “Also, she’s pregnant”.W: “Yahoo fucked up on that one, what if there is a problem with the baby….”(My wife made it through medical school, residency, divorce and the rest of all that jazz and had two children during that time period. And I would say that running Yahoo is a much bigger job then medical school or a startup or an ordinary corporate job. In medical school you know what you have to do there is a clear path. Business and what needs to be done at Yahoo is much different. )

        1. Will Luttrell

          I do think it’s great that they didn’t disqualify her due to her pregnancy. I am an enlightened guy. Some would label me “feminist.”But it IS a negative. It IS a burden and a distraction. There’s just no way to harbor another living being inside your body and pretend that it’s not something that takes away from your full focus.My wife is an attorney, and just an all around awesome human being. Watching her struggle with pregnancy, birth, breast-feeding, etc.– basically all the raw biological stuff that’s simply unavoidable/untransferable — gave me a new respect for her. Why? BECAUSE THAT S**T IS HARD!

        2. Kimberlee Morrison

          I doubt Mayer would have taken the gig if she didn’t think she could do it. We should assume that she has a support network to help her through whatever challenges might arise. But truthfully, I think your wife might be operating under old belief systems. Some people might have thought your wife couldn’t raise two kids and finish medical school — what with the crazy hours and going through a divorce. But she made it through. I too went through college as a mother, working a full-time job, on a scholarship that required lots of travel and went through a divorce at the same time. People expected me to fail also. Not the same as running a company but why assume she can’t or that Yahoo made a mistake hiring her? I think that as long as she has a great support network and a flexible schedule, she has the experience and skill to make it work. We should never put our limitations on others, especially when we have so few details. I, for one, am excited to see her move into the CEO role at Yahoo and I’m betting she’ll rock the heck out of the gig.

          1. LE

            “I doubt Mayer would have taken the gig if she didn’t think she could do it.”How does she know? People bite off more than they can chew frequently. We can assume that she is on board and confident.But this is not like Fred running USV after Flatiron. Or gothamgal starting a new VC fund and deciding to have another child (meaning she knows exactly what has to be done, has had 3 children and decides “I can handle it”.)1) MM hasn’t been pregnant before. Sorry I mean she hasn’t given birth and raised a child before. 2) Assumption everything will be fine with the baby. 3) She hasn’t had a job as big as this before. 4) Time commitment is enormous. 5) With a child you don’t get much sleep generally and that will definitely impact her performance.”People expected me to fail also. Not the same as running a company but why assume she can’t or that Yahoo made a mistake hiring her?”Because it will impact others. If my wife failed, or if you failed, the impact would be localized and nominal certainly compared to this . It wouldn’t have the impact of MM failing in a billion dollar corporation. There are lots of lives riding on this decision. Stockholders. Employees.(Side issue: Do you know the reason that parents get so freaked out about the safety of their children? Because it’s a “can’t fail” situation for them. So they will do anything to protect their children from even the minor possibility of something happening. )If MM fails it will have a huge impact on a large number of people. Not the same as some person deciding to take a gamble with a career and maybe ending up with debt they can’t pay off (bad for them of course but the impact is localized to them and those around them. Different thing.)

          2. Kimberlee Morrison

            I don’t know who she could possibly “fail” any bigger than any of the other CEOs who failed at resurrecting Yahoo. All of the previous CEOs failed pretty miserably, so the way I see it, Yahoo doesn’t really have much to lose. MM has a track record of being a strong leader at a company that values innovation and creativity. You seem to think the odds are against Mayer by virtue of her being pregnant. I simply don’t agree. And considering the inability of the previous CEOs to successfully revers the tide at Yahoo, I’d say a person with a history of helping build one of the most successful and innovative tech companies to date — a company that trampled Yahoo competitively — is probably a good person to take a risk on.RE your side issue: I think people are entirely too protective of their children in general. However, I like to believe in possibilities. If Yahoo and Mayer thought she was capable, then I trust that she was a risk worth taking. Sure whatever happens will affect a large number of people, but the predecessors haven’t done such a great job, and they didn’t have new babies to worry about. So what difference does it make that she’s pregnant and stepping into a new role? I think Mayer is taking the bigger risk. Yahoo is betting on a winner, Mayer is being asked to make magic happen.I’m an optimist. Even if I’m skeptical, I would rather see how things play out than assume she’s destined for failure.

          3. JamesHRH

            Its not destiny, it is just 99% likely.

          4. MikeSchinkel

            @jameshrh:disqus Marissa will succeed. I’m 99% certain of it.

          5. thinkdisruptive

            One doesn’t need to assume that Marissa is destined for failure, or even that the odds of failure are greater than 50-50 to question this. Her pregnancy represents an increased risk. It is her first time running any size of company, let alone a major corporation. Yahoo is in big trouble. Really big trouble. They require an extraordinary commitment just to stop losing users and become relevant again. Reversing the decline will take huge effort, time and both mental and physical resources.Maybe Marissa has what it takes. I wouldn’t say Yes or No because she’s a woman. But I would consider the risk vs benefit, and there is no question that risk is higher to the company when her time and commitment and mental focus will all be a bit compromised as she is beginning the biggest corporate assignment in her life.I think it’s also worth asking what the board expects of Marissa, and whether she’s capable of delivering that. Many have said she is an innovator as justification for this. Maybe, but her track record doesn’t demonstrate that.It does demonstrate technical leadership, but even that won’t be sufficient to turn around Yahoo. Once a company has fallen as far as Yahoo, it takes a Steve Jobsian vision and focus to recover — does she have that? Time will tell.On the other hand, if all the board requires is stabilization and a steady hand to negotiate a sale or merger, that’s quite a different thing, but that doesn’t seem to be a reason to hire someone like Marissa.In terms of character and capability, she is closer to the right type of person than previous CEOs, no doubt. That is obvious on the surface. But @LE raises valid points about the risk, and in particular, whether it is as right for Yahoo as it is for Marissa. Pronouncing that as a certainty is as foolish as saying she won’t be able to do the job.

        3. RichardF

          I upvoted your comment LE because I know how hard it is for many women to return to work soon after having a baby. My wife returned full time 5 and half days a week after 4 months.However I’m willing to bet that Marissa Mayer does not want to be a full time mother or even part time (in the work sense). She left it relatively late to have her first child.Additionally I don’t doubt the comp package she negotiated in monetary and time terms will be far more generous than most returning mothers could ever dream of. She will have a full time support system in place day and night that means I doubt she will do night time feeding or spend endless nights being woken for one reason or another.I actually don’t think in this particular instance Yahoo have taken much of risk hiring a pregnant CEO

          1. markslater

            ha – that ages for us here – companies give you 90 days max – some on half pay. My wife works at P & G – she has a great job – she received 6 weeks full pay, 6 weeks half.

          2. RichardF

            4 months is very early here, the majority return in the 7-12 month period, with about 80-90% of them in some form of part time rather than full time role. Although that’s changing with the economy, employers are becoming less flexible.

        4. Guest

          Even as a French macho, I find this comment on pregnancy suprisingly simplistic to say the least. Leadership is about setting (re-setting in this case) a culture for passion and achievement and recruiting top team leaders to implement the vision. Why a few weeks off and a good video conferencing system should prevent that. May be even better, it will give MM the necessary distance to re-engineer the Yahoo business.

          1. LE

            “Why a few weeks off and a good video conferencing system should prevent that.”Are you serious?”May be even better, it will give MM the necessary distance to re-engineer”Having a child is like a work retreat?”Even as a French macho”Guess what. I’m not a macho of any type at all. This is not a man vs. woman issue, or a woman can’t do the job of a man or anything else close. It’s a time and obligations issue.”

          2. Yaniv Tal

            take a few minutes to read sarah lacy’s recent post on the matter:…i think she slams this idea out of the park once and for all.

          3. LE

            Thanks for the link.From that story:”But I wasn’t experiencing something nearly everyone said I would: I wasn’t cripplingly, emotionally depressed to leave my baby. “Key point “nearly everyone said” and I believe all the woman were of very high caliber as well, right?Vs. N=1 of what her personal experience was. 1 data point and that data point supports an upside for a person not for a company.”You can’t have it all, all at once. For instance, I can’t travel the world anymore, but that’s ok, I did that for two years. More to the point: You have to decide what “it all” is to you.”The issue here is what’s good for Yahoo. Not “you”.If MM was my sister I would tell her no question to take the job if she felt she could do the job.”I can no longer pick up and fly to Africa on a whim. “”I don’t get to sleep very much.””Do I have it all? Hardly. Most days I’m lucky to shower. I can only hope that one day scientists discover that baby vomit is a great hair conditioner. “”But I have it a hell of a lot easier than a single mother working three jobs and feeding her kids on foodstamps. “Sarah’s advice is focused on what’s good for Sarah she is essentially telling woman who want to do a startup (I mean you wouldn’t compare what Sarah is doing at Pando to running Yahoo, right) that they can pull it off. I agree with what Sarah is saying for the situation Sarah is describing where the impact and downside (remember you have to focus on the downside) is much less. My thoughts are not related to what is good for MM and her downside. They are as far as what is good for Yahoo.Sarah’s advice is appropriate for someone thinking of doing a startup or something similar to what Sarah has done. It does nothing to give support to the idea that hiring a new CEO who is bearing a child in a few months is the right decision for a major corporation.

          4. Yaniv Tal

            i’ve never managed a large company so i’ll have to admit that i’m not an expert on the subject but i actually would compare what sarah’s doing to running yahoo. i can’t speak for her but i would imagine that she cares very deeply about the success of her company and that she’s as driven as anyone to make it succeed. the items that you’ve highlighted demonstrate the hardship that raising a child imposes which I don’t think anyone would dispute, but the question is whether or not those hardships can be overcome.let me try a little proof by contradiction here. let’s say that even a great CEO has a cap – some limit to the amount of problems they can face in a day – call that cap 20 problems/day. one day that 21st problem would come creeping around and that CEO would be unable to deal with it – damaging the company. by definition this CEO would no longer be great since they were unable to handle the demands of the company. => great CEO’s don’t have a cap to the number of problems they can face in a day.that’s why there can be CEO’s for companies of all sizes: 20x the size of yahoo!a great CEO knows how to lead a team, how to delegate, how to handle whatever comes their way. you think a CEO could deal with a division in freefall, a gigantic lack of talent, but that a kid needing some feeding would be the company’s downfall? look at elon musk. that guy is absolutely killing it while running spacex, tesla, and has a bunch of kids! he gets a lot of flack for being away from the fam but he makes it work. the hard part is finding a leader that can command respect, point the ship in the right direction and get all crew members to push full force ahead. sure, it takes a lot of hard work and ambition to run a successful company but a person that has that ability should be able to overcome whatever obstacles stand in their way.

        5. Andrew

          While pregnancy is tough, it’s resources and work ethic that make the difference. Kerri Walsh, the world’s best women’s beach volleyball player, had her first child and was back winning volleyball tournaments three months later!Beach volleyball is far more physically taxing than CEO. If you’re in good shape, work out, and your child cooperates, and you have the financial/family resources to get a lot of help, there’s no reason why you can’t work a full schedule if that is what you want. Mayer’s drive pretty much guarantees that–she’s not doing this for the money; short of a massive Y! turnaround there’s no way she’s going to make more than she did at Google.What the pregnancy does show is that Y! is looking long term–if their goal was to breakup and sell the company there’s no way you’d hire someone who would be less available for the first few months, and there’s no way you’d hire a engineering and product expert like Mayer.Kudos to Yahoo for finally making a smart, risky choice. It’s a shame that they had to work through so many out-of-touch old-school CEOs to get there.

        6. Donna Brewington White

          I launched my own search practice pregnant with my third child and in my 30s. A new business, two toddlers and pregnant…and I had been out of recruiting for a few years working in nonprofit and was relearning the recruiting business and how to run a business — I had never sent an invoice — and figuring out the internet. And we were broke so I had to do a lot of things piecemeal on old and barely functional office equipment working out of our guest house.It was a lifestyle business but it supported my family and allowed my husband to take time off to make a career transition. He is a great Dad but I still did (and still do) all the planning and management aspects of parenting. I also worked through my entire fourth pregnancy even though I was on bedrest for the last month of it. I packed my laptop to take to the hospital each of the last two deliveries — one of which was a C-section.No maternity leave to speak of.Nothing even remotely as difficult as turning around Yahoo! but also nothing close to the resources and support system available to Marissa Mayer.I think Marissa will be fine.

          1. Cam MacRae

            That was a great comment so I’m sad to see it deleted. Also, I had you pegged as not a day over twenty-one.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Okay, you convinced me. It’s back. Thanks, Cam. Just wondered if it may be a little TMI.

          3. Anne Libby

            Not at all.

          4. laurie kalmanson

            the biggest and longest contract i’ve signed as an independent was while i was on bedrest halfway through being pregnant with my daughter. that piece of work lasted into kindergarten, and i still work with most of the team i put together for it.

        7. Donna Brewington White

          @domainregistry:disqus One of the things about this comment that I appreciate is that you recognize that this will be complicated and that bearing a child is not something to be taken lightly. There really is nothing comparable. Then there is the newborn experience and the raising the child part. Again, nothing comparable. And, yes, it cannot be denied that this adds an element of uncertainty and risk to the Mayer/Yahoo situation. I am assuming that it was a well-calculated risk. Pros, cons, all that.I have just known some extraordinary women in my life who have beat what seemed like insurmountable odds. An uncommon strength that could change the world if more fully unleashed. They just don’t have the visibility and opportunities afforded to Marissa Mayer.And they have been (and are) amazing mothers.

          1. Andrew

            People here talk over and over about the downsides of pregnancy and having children on the life of a busy businessperson. However, you need to also acknowledge the positives. Many women gain a tremendous amount of strength, courage, and focus after having children that makes them better leaders.(and don’t forget that mothers are a hugely important target demographic for yahoo)

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I very much relate to this Andrew..

      5. Anne Libby

        Exactly. It would be a mistake to think that she’d been hired to make a point, or for “diversity.”

        1. JamesHRH

          I have to do this Anne.You brought all the diversity issues up and got it up voted to the top of the comments.Sheesh – which is it? Merit or meaning?And you can’t say both!!!!

          1. Anne Libby

            (deleted duplicate-ish comment)

          2. Anne Libby

            I didn’t bring it up as a diversity issue, but as a observation of the historic nature of the hire. (With a little “yay” at 7am, at my computer, with my coffee.) I don’t think there has ever been a pregnant F500 CEO, much less one hired while pregnant.Pregnancy — or its possibility — is a discounting factor for some. Whether this factor was applied, or whether it’s valid, it’s done. And that’s something.So, merit. All the way.(I confess: I was kind of proud to have been downvoted! Silly.)

      6. Dave Pinsen

        That’s how it should be always.

      7. ShanaC

        That is a super feminist statement. I am proud to here you say it!

      8. MikeSchinkel

        I’m with you Fred. It’s a damn shame that news of hiring Mayer has been overshadowed by all the opining regarding her being pregnant. I think that does a huge disservice to her as an executive.

      9. Hardik

        i agree with you she is best current marketing.

      10. Techman

        Hope it all works out.

  12. Guest

    Having spent a lifetime looking for potential in companies that everyone had written off all I can say is that Yahoo should never have been written off….Now, you can shake your head and wonder “…what are they thinking….” but that does not take anything away from the potential of the core company.All Ms. Mayer needs to do is have a success in one aspect of Yahoo, to create traction and or excitement in one unit of this moribund company and she will have instantly put the wind back in its sails….All I can say is, “You go girl!”

    1. awaldstein

      I’m with you on optimism. Excited to see someone with so much support.I question whether there is a core company at all. At least from my view. I see this more as building a new core with assets…some new, some not.I can’t even guess at an answer to ‘who is yahoo?” My lack of understanding and vision I admit but we’ve all lived with Yahoo our entire web lives and feel that we’ve watched a friend sink slowly and steadily.

  13. JimHirshfield

    It’s exciting. Can’t wait to see the changes.

  14. Ciaran

    It’s a brave and ballsy move. She’s obviously ‘whip-smart’ (Matt Cutts’ words) and knows a whole lot about successful tech companies.I guess my interest is most piqued by the fact that they have hired a product person when they seem to have more or less given up on product. Should they maybe have doubled down on content & media, as that’s basically all they have left?Bringing in Marissa is almost certainly good (though, to mis-quote Brian’s Mum*, “She’s not the messiah”), but I wonder whether they might end up losing Levinsohn, who knows media inside out, and was responsible for a couple of the good points you highlighted above.One thing we can say for definite is that, with its second female CEO, Yahoo has shown itself to be more forward thinking than most other companies in this area.*…

    1. JamesHRH

      Sorry, her Cv points to relevant experience but her gender doesn’t make Yahoo forward looking….

      1. Ciaran

        I disagree. I think it’s pretty clear that there is a glass ceiling in most major corporations, tech or otherwise, and the fact that Yahoo have been able to look past her gender, which the fact that her pregnancy wasn’t a factor proves, is worth praise.

        1. JamesHRH

          To be really hard on this, you could take the position that she got the Y! gig because they are in such bad shape that all the non-pregnant, male execs looked at it and passed.Minority breakthroughs usually require taking on risk.I don’t think any of this is true or relevant….but it is a view that is supported by the situation.There is a quote around Hollywood that goes something like ‘I am tired of getting scripts with Robin Williams fingerprints on them’ – Jim Carey.That could be the case @ Y! – again, though, I doubt it and think the female issues should be downplayed. Just my view.

  15. Robert Holtz

    Eons ago I was supposed to be the new CEO of Flickr and there was even talk of spinning it back out. Within days of Carol Bartz’s reign at Yahoo! that all came to an abrupt end. Flickr has been running literally without any leadership (no CEO at all and all the founders have been long gone). This was before Instagram and before Facebook had its own photo feature and before all those Twitter-geared photo sites cropped up.Point is, Yahoo! has been “dead to me” as well for literally all these years. I must say I’m kind of amazed they were able to get Marissa. She was about as high up as someone can get within Google so on some level she must have been eager to be CEO but at the same time she was also fiercely loyal to Google. How big a deal that is I suppose is all a factor now of how she chooses to position Yahoo! going forward.But one thing is she is on a very short list of highly capable people who really has the chops to take the rust off of that tarnished brand and bring back its’ past luster. I am really intrigued at what she will do as part of her vision for the company.

    1. JamesHRH

      Hate to be cynical, but if she was high up & not just high profile, would she have left?

      1. Robert Holtz

        I can only speculate. That is a very individual decision. But within Google, her shot at bat would have been years away at best… at least if we’re talking about the CEO spot. Perhaps she would have stayed at Google forever had an offer not come along. Or perhaps she would have founded a startup. Like I said, I can only speculate. Only Marissa knows what is truly right for her reality.

        1. JamesHRH

          Actually, I am of the opinion that hard driving executives often make cataclysmic errors in guiding their own careers, especially when they are without financial incentive.The main error is setting a strategic career goal and wanting it too much, see reply to JLM….



        1. LE

          Page dated her. Maybe Lucy Southworth somehow played a role.”Mayer was not invited to Page’s private-island wedding to Lucy Southworth, a source close to the event tells us, so she could hardly be expected to invite Page to her bash.”……Many times if something doesn’t make sense there is a reason that isn’t being considered. As they say don’t look for the Zebras.

          1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


    2. ShanaC

      what are you looking for her to do to make things better? I mean I could take this really cynically, because of the sheer amount of weight needed to be moved to get the ship righted…

  16. William Mougayar

    Where is the Quipol to vote on that? I dunno about sharing your optimism. Yahoo still has 2 critical uphill battles: People & Products. Their (remaining) products have become more sucky and less relevant. And their best people left them a while back & some of their newer hires are not as good. One area they seem to be doing OK with is online content production. My gut feel is they will acquire a couple of sexy hot companies (think Foursquare or Instagram caliber) to signal a new direction & capabilities. Key question is – Can Yahoo compete? As is, they can’t.Can Marissa pull a Mark Hurd or Steve Jobs like turnaround? She doesn’t have the products HP had, nor the people Apple still had. So, her chances are lower in my opinion. Plus, she doesn’t have much time. This is a 6-9 months turnaround, not 1-2 years.

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      It will definitely be an uphill battle. Robert Scoble believes that many good people will migrate towards Yahoo because of Marissa’s appointment. If this does happen then it is definitely a good start. You can’t fix products without having quality people on board first.



    2. Max Yoder

      The 6–9 months turnaround is what I worry about.Seven months from now, we may be reading articles that ask, “Hey Marissa, Yahoo still sucks. What happened?”And if those theoretical articles do get written, I think they’ll be unfair. Marissa needs time to recruit, take out boatloads of trash, and build. Yahoo’s rise from the ashes, if it occurs, can only be a slow, steady one, I hope their board can appreciate that.

      1. Ryan Frew

        +1It took years for Steve Jobs to really turn Apple around, which is a point that Carol Bartz made that fell on deaf ears among Y!’s board. I’m much more optimistic about Marissa than Carol, or any of the other recent Yahoo! CEOs though. We all know -what- Yahoo! is, with all their users and traffic and content, but there are few on the planet who know -who- or -why- Yahoo! is or how they should look down the road.

        1. thinkdisruptive

          It took Steve Jobs very little time to focus (kill off the 90% that was dragging them down), return to profitability (3 months), do a (unpopular) deal with Microsoft that brought life-saving cash + guaranteed Office support + forward-looking credibility, articulate the digital lifestyle vision with the Mac at the core (which has largely been implemented today and is responsible for the 15 year run that took them from weeks to bankruptcy to the most valuable + profitable company on the planet), and make Apple a place that good people wanted to work at again. All less than a year. Many CEOs don’t do that much ever. Marissa has about the same time to implement major changes and right the direction of the ship, or she’ll lose the enthusiasm of stakeholders and moral authority to make big changes.

          1. Ryan Frew

            All very true. But first, let’s keep in mind one thing: Marissa is not and will not ever be as good as Steve Jobs. That’s a great benchmark but she can’t be expected to duplicate what he accomplished.When I said that it took Jobs years to turn Apple around I should have been more clear. I was speaking exclusively about their share price/market cap. On that front, he made a substantial impact within the first 18 months, but things didn’t really take off to become the AAPL we know now until early ’05.Here’s my question. Does Y!, with an admittedly brilliant mind at the helm, really have the same potential as Apple? I’d like to say yes but I’m unsure.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            At Apple, stock price seems to be a trailing indicator. How does Amazon trade at a PE of 180, while Apple only gets 15 — the level of a standard blue chip, not the biggest growth and profit generator in history?I don’t think Marissa is a Steve Jobs, nor is Yahoo an Apple. But, her tenure will still largely be judged on accomplishments of the first 6-12 months, unless she has a long record and pulls an Apple. The markets won’t give her longer than that to show significant directional progress.

          3. Ryan Frew

            Agree once again, especially about how Apple’s stock price is a trailing indicator. The iPod debuted in 2001 and, like I said, AAPL didn’t really skyrocket until ’05. Crazy.Anyways, it’s true that she will be judged on this first year. I’m just crossing my fingers that Y!’s board isn’t instantly as harsh as the market might be in the coming months.

      2. LE

        “I think they’ll be unfair. Marissa needs time to recruit, take out boatloads of trash, and build.”The first thing we will see is PR that will manage expectations and give her some breathing room. And if we don’t see that PR that in itself will mean something in terms of how this situation is being handled.

        1. Max Yoder

          That’s a wise assessment.

    3. JLM

      .I think she has to have at least 24 months to move the dial in any meaningful way. Plus those babies are really an annoyance when they first arrive. She gets +12 months for the baby..

      1. JamesHRH

        I think she fell into the Jack Welch successor trap. If I don’t get to run GE, I am going to run Something Big.I have no info but would bet she wanted to lead something high profile.I worked with a car dealer once who said ‘ that guy wanted to buy my dealership in the Worst Possible Way, so I gave him what he wanted.’The purchaser declared bankruptcy inside 3 years.

        1. JLM

          .Yes, at this level one is now playing for style points. She is beyond FU $$$.”Hmmm, can I be a CEO of a big operation?”On the heels of @donnawhite:disqus ‘s excellent post of yesterday, this must have been a recruiting bonanza and adventure.The appeal to vanity is a huge part of recruiting at the “C” suite level..

          1. JamesHRH

            I agree with Fred’s list of positive developments @ Y!…..but the people (OK, men) that left GE after Immelt got the nod have disappeared off the radar.Larry Bossidy wrote a book, but…..I am with you – I need to see The Plan.

          2. LE

            “”Hmmm, can I be a CEO of a big operation?””Agree. Had she done a startup she would have much less resources at hand to do things. And the chance of success would have been much lower as well. A failure at Yahoo while not great probably will enhance her appeal more than a startup failure would.

          3. JLM

            .Running a big company or having the infrastructure support of a big company is so wildly different from starting something from scratch.Even Jobs bought into an established business rather than starting from scratch when he was banished from the Apple kingdom.There are many folks who can run an operation but spawning one is a whole ‘nother thang..

          4. Andrew

            Nope. After being kicked out of Apple, Jobs started NeXT from scratch.

          5. JLM

            .You are absolutely correct and I am absolutely wrong. It was Pixar that he purchased not NeXT. Thanks for the correction..

          6. Donna Brewington White

            You are right. This is an exceptional career move regardless of the outcome.

          7. ShanaC

            ouch – maybe we need to stop with the titles.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        I think if you have access to resources, which she does now, and she has the ability to know where things need to be steered in the holistic view, then she can still be able to get things aligned for where things need to go even on leave.

        1. JLM

          .I doubt she even takes two weeks off.I think you are right about steering.This is a big ship and just the Skipper sounding a new direction will have a huge impact but it is still going to take years to turn the ship around.She will get graded on her first success..

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Agree on all accounts.

      3. ErikSchwartz

        I think she’s got 6-8 months to change the direction of the culture. If the culture isn’t meaningfully improving in 6-8 months she will inevitably fail (which will take 24 months).

      4. William Mougayar

        I’m thinking the “signs” of a turnaround must start to become visible in 6 months. We’re talking Internet/dog years here in terms of the pace of business. As for her pregnancy, although she’s entitled to 12 months, do you think she’ll take them? I doubt it. I think she’ll do something spectacular, i.e. either raise the child in her re-modelled office with 3 nannies or move 3 staff to her home into a re-modelled area where she’ll be in touch with the business 100%.

    4. Richard

      How is yahoo perceived in canada? Internationallly?

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I know that in the Middle East – Yahoo was famous for purchasing user content generated platform Maktoob (around $160 million in 2009). The Yahoo-Maktoob platforms is still very popular in the Arab world and is one of top generator of Arab online content. They also recently signed an agreement with Yamli which is another Arab transliteration tool. So I would say that Yahoo is viewed favourably at least in the Arab world

        1. Richard

          Great feedback. So on the streets do the Arab youth look at yahoo as a one of the major players? Or do they share the “what is yahoo” sentiment of the inside the valley crowd?

          1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            As an Arab-Canadian viewing from a distance – FB and twitter and growing very quickly. I imagine that Yahoo because of the Maktoob deal and its popularity in arab user generated content does have a good brand name. I will share your comment on the web and see if we get a response

        2. ShanaC

          good to know.

      2. leigh

        Canada it’s been a “fun” brand that has lost it’s relevance. Some of their properties do well from a media metrics POV (entertainment, sports) but that online media portal destination play has been losing the battle to Google and social for a long time now.

        1. JamesHRH

          Agree w irrelevance.MM had better have a really compelling vision. The Y! is a Dead Brand Walking…I would vote for a string of acquisitions.

      3. William Mougayar

        In Canada, same as the US. One thing I know, their Canadian operations started to get decimated 18 months ago, and was operating with a much reduced staff as of yesterday. Another thing I was surprised to learn about is that Yahoo produces short movies internationally.

        1. leigh

          Their Canadian operations get decimated every 18 months for the past number of years. Kill it rebuild it. Terrible from a relationship perspective with media planners and buyers/clients

      4. Conor

        In Singapore Yahoo News is one of the main news sites, in Japan they have (used to have? haven’t seen it lately) a broadband provider. I think their news sites are popular in Indonesia too. They seem to have (had?) positive brand recognition in Asia and SE Asian but unfortunately I don’t feel like they have leveraged that recently to get involved in the local startup scene which is hyperactive (very bubbly) these days. FourSquare, Twitter, Whats App (ex-Yahoo founders?), Line (Japanese but owning the Whats App market here in Japan now and a friend in Thailand says it’s becoming the new Whats App there), Facebook, Twitter.. Everythign that’s hot these days in Asian internet (which like everywhere is becoming more about mobile and less about PC) is not Yahoo related, which is kinda sad, like someone passed away and everyone is just moving on with their lives 🙁 As in my first paragraph, and as others have said, Yahoo still has a place among the “norms”, every day internet users and silver surfers. Maybe like JLM said part of it is communication: “We’re still here! We’ve alive! We want to be cool again and and support the next phase of innovation on the web. Come join the underdog!”

        1. Andrew

          Yahoo and Yahoo Japan are separate entities.

    5. JamesHRH

      William, I think Hurd & Jobs are great tent pole examples: one a fanatic about execution & financial returns; the other a fanatic about strategy (digital entertainment hub worked out pretty good) and product.I don’t see how either of these can be applied to the Y!

      1. William Mougayar

        The common elements I see are: a) turnaround mandate, b) new CEO.

        1. JamesHRH

          I agree with those elements – which is why I think they are great tentpoles. Where will MM fit on the spectrum – product, execution?I bet acquisition.

          1. William Mougayar

            Tough to tell. Personally, I’d be in a better position to predict anything even after 30 days. I have no data on MM @ Yahoo! yet. We shall see. She will definitely get her share of ink.

    6. LE

      “nor the people Apple still had”Not to mention the fact that Apple took gambles with it’s strategy. All that weening of products down and refocus wouldn’t mean anything if the imac followed by the ipod hadn’t hit the way they did. And technology hadn’t evolved to a point where those products were possible. (Particularly the ipod which required a small hard disk). And the Internet.Point being had you brought Steve back in 1990 history might have been different with Apple.

    7. CJ

      Flipbook would make sense.

      1. William Mougayar

        Flipboard is too close to Twitter. I doubt they would be a Yahoo acquisition target.

  17. Liz

    Listening to some business shows last night, the pundits were asking why Yahoo!was taking such a chance hiring her. It was the opposite sentiment on Twitter with people asking why she’d want this job. She has such a positive reputation in the tech community.

    1. Shawn Cohen

      Oh, the media is out of touch? Fancy that:P

      1. leigh


    2. cvharquail

      great point about diff’t audiences and diff’t criteria

  18. John Revay

    Reading this post – the audio of the old Yahoo commercials come to mind.Guitar playing with the voice over saying Y A H O O O O O

    1. ShanaC

      i loved those ads

  19. Richard

    Life is a pitch: Yahoo, the google of mobile?

  20. Tom Labus

    This will be a real test for Dan Loeb and the Board to see if they will have the patience to see a plan develop and evolve over time or does she get fired in 18 months.I’m sure there is an eye on the MSFT offer(s) from a few years back and that could be the strategy here too.

    1. John Revay

      MS offer – could have, would have, should have. – thinking that that ship already sailed

      1. Tom Labus

        If MSFT offered 25, Loeb would be a seller, I believe.

  21. johnmccarthy

    Would be interesting to hear what Yahoo products the AVC community currently uses. None for me.

    1. jason wright

      email – 16 years, and I have no will to change to another service. Marissa has me.

    2. John Best

      Ditto. I’d be hard pressed to name a modern Yahoo product. I remember trying AIM many moons ago, and stopping using it after only a day or two.

    3. Max Yoder

      I desperately want to use and love Flickr, but I can’t because the dang thing isn’t easy to use or love.

    4. sprugman

      I still have a Flickr account, but let the Pro expire; I still have a spam-catcher email address there; but the main thing I use them for is OAuth for my StackOverflow account. Oh, and I often use them when I’m trying to test if the Internet is working. In other words: none.

    5. John Revay

      I thought I once read that their iOS browser was well done – I have yet to try it.

    6. johnmccarthy

      Actually, I usually get asked to join a few Yahoo Final Four pool and Fantasy Football pool every year

    7. matthughes

      I used Yahoo for a Final Four bracket this year.To my knowledge, they still have the highest traffic of any sports web site – by a good margin.Although I rarely, if ever visit their sports site, or any other Yahoo vertical for that matter.

    8. JamesHRH

      same here. Can only think of 3 people I know who use Ymail.All over 45.

      1. bsoist

        I use it (but for a very limited specific use – not as “my” email). I am exactly 45 – not over. 🙂

    9. bsoist

      For years I used shell scripts to scrape sports scores and stock prices from Yahoo! I still look first to Yahoo! when I’m teaching someone how to parse data. It’s a great place to grab table-fulls of data programmatically. Outside of that and my Y! email, Flickr is the only product I use. I love it and desperately want it to survive. My son and I were actually just having another “what do I do about Flickr?” discussion yesterday just before I heard the news.



    11. fredwilson

      flickr and yahoo finance occasionally (i prefer google finance)

  22. John Best

    Regardless of whether Marissa can turn Yahoo around, it seems like an overwhelming positive response to an overwhelmingly positive move.

  23. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    I agree with @liad:disqus @rrohan189:disqus the sentiment was so positive and people like Robert Scoble were so ecstatic. Apparently one of the reason is that she is a coder and also others like Chris Dixon believes she has the ability to ignore public markets for a while to focus on rebuilding the company.



      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        so you do agree with importance about having a coder background. It is a very interesting point that mainstream media seems to be missing

        1. MikeSchinkel

          Few (any?) in mainstream media have a coder background. So they have very little ability to appreciate why it’s important. They do not know what they don’t know.

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  24. John Revay

    “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”Good quote I will have to use that one of these days.

  25. John Revay

    Oddly – stock did not move much yesterday is for 5 days – however if you look at the activity for yesterday – mostly flat.

  26. Henry Yates

    So are you buying Yahoo! stock? A while back you used to occasionally give updates on your stock positions. I realise it is not core to this blog, but it was an interesting side conversation.

    1. fredwilson

      i am out of the market most of the time. the only time i like to be in the market is when “there is blood on the streets and some of it is mine”.

      1. Henry Yates

        Excellent, love that investment philosophy! Kind of “extreme value investing”.

  27. JLM

    .What is very interesting about this matter is the enormous reaction to what is essentially a change of leadership with no real knowledge of what THE plan is going to be going forward.Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer that you can change the outcomes by changing the leadership and sometimes almost instantly. It is attitude from the top as much as anything else.Having said that, it will be very interesting to see what happens.I am surprised that there has not been more coverage of the fact that about 18 months ago Google underwent a reorganization in which MM was essentially dropped a rung in the organization. Woman scorned?She had been with the company since 1999 and was Google’s 20th employee.To overstate the obvious, MM is immensely qualified for her first stint in the “C” suite.Here’s wishing her nothing but tailwinds..

    1. falicon

      Agree…I think it’s just general excitement, because most people acknowledge Yahoo! is just about to enter the two-minute drill and it looks like they just may have found their John Elway to step in at QB…for those of us that have no real stake in Yahoo! (the majority of the internet now I would say), we know no matter how the game ends, at the very least it’s going to be entertaining for the rest of us to watch now…

      1. JLM

        .The Internet is the stadium and the world of business is the entertainment. And we are the fans..

        1. Aaron Klein

          I can’t place you as a fan. I think you enjoy being on the field as much as I do. 😉

      2. Mark Birch

        Yes, but one little quibble…Yahoo is still a major force on the Internet and the first place destination for the majority. For the rest of us, Yahoo was an afterthought…

        1. falicon

          Agree…I don’t know that they are really in a two-minute drill situation…but it made for a better story to say it that way 😉

      3. ShanaC

        better than tv. and I think one of the reasons it is entertaining is we all root for the undergod, especially when they were as important as yahoo. Plus, Microsoft is not a web counterbalance. Nor is Facebook quite yet (give them time) Right now no one is to Google, and we need one.

    2. leigh

      totally. As a friend of mine who just quit her job at Yahoo Canada “damn i just missed my 7th CEO in 6 yrs by a week”.Well, Steve Jobs did it with Apple so maybe she can do it with Yahoo. As you say, nothing but tailwinds.

    3. LE

      “I am a huge believer that you can change the outcomes by changing the leadership and sometimes almost instantly.”She doesn’t have much time to ride that wave. If she isn’t able to effect positive change in a short period of time the pundits will pounce and drag yahoo down. And that will impact the employee morale.How much time is that? Probably 6 mos. to a year.

  28. Jon Michael Miles

    Barksdale quote snort laugh, milk out the nose variation.

  29. JamesHRH

    I would like to see the data that drove her decision to take the job

    1. LIAD

      was probably a guarantee of complete control and a $ sign followed by lots of digits

      1. Shawn Cohen

        Or just the sheer challenge of plugging the Titanic’s holes and getting it on the voyage again. If you’re a go-getter, that’s irresistible red meat.

        1. LIAD

          for sure. was just being facetious.

          1. Shawn Cohen

            hehe, yeah, your “complete control” phrase should have been a tip off:)

        2. JamesHRH

          Titanic Captaincy, post intersection with Iceberg, not a great career move though…..

          1. Shawn Cohen

            IDK, even if you preside over a sinking Titanic, somebody would probably let you captain a yacht later on:P

      2. Aaron Klein

        And the fact that Larry Page didn’t put her on the senior leadership team after the reorg. She deserved a spot there.

        1. LIAD

          people were tweeting how Google must be pissed she left. Someone clever responded that it actually must be great for them to have someone they know so well running things over there.

          1. Aaron Klein


          2. Matt A. Myers

            Well, in a way it would be smart to differentiate from where Google is going. I see Google more as a technology company – as you can see with things like Google Glasses, self-driving vehicles, mapping technology, etc.. and not specifically Local – which is where Marissa seemed to be passionate about, and is also what I am passionate about, for a variety of reasons.

        2. JamesHRH

          Name the senior leadership team.I think Larry gave her the Fluff Cowan treatment, ala Tiger Woods circa 1999 –

          1. Aaron Klein

            I don’t know if I can name them all – Vic Gundotra comes to mind running social – but yeah. She ended up a layer down reporting to a Senior VP and that didn’t make a lot of sense for someone with her chops and history.Seems like she was born for this kind of challenge.

          2. JamesHRH

            I am going with the founderitis diagnosis….its the Larry & Sergey show. Any head of a GOOG Sub is known to the industry, but not to normals.BTW, I am not saying this is bad or good, it just is.Most people think Tiger fired Fluff because of his profile. Certainly, Stevie W managed that issue carefully for a long time.

      3. JLM

        .I imagine she wrote her own ticket mindful of the way Carly F was summarily dismissed by HP..

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I imagine she’s the perfect person to see the sheer potential of it all.

  30. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Makes me think of one of the first adages I ever learned at work: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

    1. Max Yoder

      I like that.

  31. RichardF

    Yahoo have approx 300 million email addresses and are in the top three along with gmail and hotmail. That’s a lot of eyeballs, entrenched eyeballs. They are far from dead.I think Marissa will do just fine.

    1. JLM

      .Which implies that a lot of their challenge is just communication and messaging.”Hey, we’re good, let me tell you why.”.

  32. matthughes

    When I saw the news I couldn’t help but think of this great Rod Tidwell quote:”She’s a school teacher about to womp some ass.”I’m excited for Y! – it’s a huge step in the right direction.

  33. andyswan

    I sent in my resume. It simply said:Day one: Fire everyone.Day two: See if anything that makes us money isn’t workingThey didn’t call me.

    1. JLM

      .Perchance they emailed you and you didn’t have a yahoo account?.

      1. Owen

        Someone had logged into his yahoo account and already deleted the email … #toolate

    2. Yaniv Tal

      as in flagrant advertisements on their front page? that’s gotta be a hard hand to cling to! they should take the hit already. clean up the front page. put ads on any other page but for f sakes!! it’s like a store that punches customers as they walk in the door.

      1. ShanaC

        that ad is an expensive ad.

        1. Yaniv Tal

          therein lies the problem. it’s the the innovator’s dilemma. should they amputate or watch the gangrene creep up the arm?

    3. Ed Freyfogle

      The problem is the things that make y! money are the things that users hate (big ads everywhere). So the users leave. Day by day. Meanwhile to hit numbers, the ads get bigger, more intrusive, etc. Every quarter the base shrinks and those users who remain have to be squeezed even harder.I worked at y! from 98 to 03, the last 2 years on search. It was the same then. The idea that users liked google’s clean homepage wasn’t beyond us. The problem was the intrusive homepage ads earned $1M/day. so no one could turn them off. It took us literally a year to get banner ads removed from search results, even though mountains of evidence showed users prefered cleanness.The problem is revenue is easy to measure, user preference is very hard to measure. By the time you see it slipping it’s probably too late.I wish her the best, as I have all the new CEOs. it’s in everyone’s interest that y! thrive. But it will take something magical.

      1. Yaniv Tal

        amen. companies have been innovating in the advertisement space continuously. google with unobtrusive text ads, twitter with highly relevant inline ads.. and here’s miss yahoo, hasn’t flinched an inch in 20 years acting like it’s 1990’s geocities all over again (no offence fred).you’ve got the eyeballs already. take down the trashy neon signs before the rest of the people wake up and decide they don’t want to waste the rest of their lives in a sleazy dive bar. there are other ways to create revenue out of eyeballs.. but finding them requires hard work and innovation.

      2. andyswan

        great comment.

        1. Ed Freyfogle

          Thanks, my current company is 100% influenced by my time at yahoo and the belief that you can either be a great portal OR a great search engine, but not both.BTW that is a lesson it seems Google is slowly but surely on the path to also learning the hard way.

      3. Antony Chen

        Not sure if I agree with you here. I just recently left and the last few products were delivering smaller, less intrusive ad experiences. As an example: Say what you will about “Minty” (Yahoo!’s new mail interface) on whether you like it or not, but it has far fewer ads than “Candygram” (the one that looked like Exchange/Outlook).Also, look at Axis. While I think the product name could use some help given that the last time the name “Axis” was in the public eye, we were talking about GW Bush’s “axis of evil” (so poorly chosen name), but it’s now my default browser on my iPad because it is actually quite good. There are no ads. They’re working on user experience first.With that said, there are many challenges that await Marissa, but I couldn’t be happier for my ex-colleagues. What I have heard about her has been nothing but glowing and I was happily shocked yesterday at the news (and even happier that Kara Swisher was left to find out the same time with everyone else). I have always said that the company sits on a goldmine. It just needs the right leadership to cash it in. Hopefully, she finds the right allies internally who tell her where all the bodies are buried, gets rid of those bodies, fixes the culture, and brings in much of the stellar talent that’s fled (to companies like her previous employer).

        1. Ed Freyfogle

          I can’t comment on the new products, I don’t use them, but I believe you that they are less intrusive. My questions then is do they make any money? perhaps things have changed, but in my day y! mail was far from profitable, despite many valient efforts at retargeting, etc. When a user goes to mail, he wants to read his mail, not see ads.That is the fundamental challenge of modern media: how do you make money on a big scale in a way that users accept?

          1. Antony Chen

            Agreed. This isn’t a Yahoo!-specific problem though. This is a problem of inertia that we’ve trained the Internet consumer that all information is freely available, even information that used to cost us the price of a newspaper or magazine. Newspapers and magazines sell ads. Therefore, the Internet (maybe stupidly) copied the same model. People will keep discussing freemium v. paywall, but to your point, maybe there’s a better way.And, if you find that better way, quit your job, start up a company, go ask Fred for some funding, etc. 🙂

          2. Ed Freyfogle

            In the past media was able to command amazing returns, basically capturing massive surplus from both advertisers (“I don’t know which 50%”) and consumers.In the future a lot of that surplus will be kept by advertisers who get better at measuring every day (or go direct to consumer via channels like twitter, etc) or by consumers. The old model is gone. It’s not clear there is a case for a mega company like yahoo! It may be that portals like AOL and Yahoo! were just a bridge technology as the internet matured.

  34. brian trautschold

    from the experience of being in a giant org when the head changes – it really does shake things..I was @ HP when Mark Hurd was fired/let go/ ‘resigned’. From the top the the bottom people could feel it was a bad move for the company. I left within 3 months.Yahoo has the potential to have the exact opposite reaction. Good move.

  35. ErikSchwartz

    I’ll say the same thing here I said on Tumblr yesterday.Yahoo fundamentally has a culture problem. The root of all the problems are there.Can Marissa Mayer fix it? I don’t know. She has spent her entire career at Google. She doen’t know any other work culture. Can by utterly rejecting the existing dysfunctional Y! culture she end up changing the Y! culture? I hope so.

    1. JLM

      .I don’t get the culture comment.Not disagreeing. Just don’t get it.Enlighten me, please. Thank you..

      1. ErikSchwartz

        A bit of background. I spent 3 years at Y! in the late 1990s. In that time frame there was an era of product ownership and accountability. If you wanted to do something, and could make a cogent argument to do it. Then chances are you could build it. That was the culture.Starting in the staff ramp up of late 98 and into 99 they started bringing in the MBAs. Their idea of a “cogent argument” was a powerpoint deck. The culture changed. It became about building your internal fiefdom.The boast when I started at Y! was we built this product with 1 engineer and a half of a PM (Y! Games was literally built by 4 people 3 of whom were also on other projects).When I left it was about making your group bigger than someone else’s group. It was about hiring the headcount before the end of the quarter or you’d lose them. Didn’t matter if you had not seen a high enough quality candidate yet just hire someone, if they don’t work out we’ll just transfer them.Marissa has spent her entire career at Google, which especially early on had a very different culture than Y! has now. Does she have the force of will to change Y!’s culture?

        1. JLM

          .Good explanation. Very insightful. Well played.It is very interesting to me how much real world info there is on — I would never have suspected what you said absent your authority to say it.Thanks..

  36. Miljenko Hatlak

    Yahoo needs a lot more then just a new CEO, regardless of her former top results at Google. In a last decade this internet giant has lost a lot of his old charm. Former leadership has tried with all their efforts to convert Yahoo into the faceless media company. Search engine, that was their major product and what they were famous for (no mater how inferior to Google), it’s now lost for ages.So, what will be new foundation upon which they gonna try to rebuild their ruined image, and make it their new niche ? Anyway, I wish all the best to Marissa as Yahoo’s new CEO, with hope to see this company bringing a lot more innovation!

  37. Andy

    You put it quite nicely Fred. Dan Loeb literally had to kick, scratch, and claw to get #1 and #2 done. I’m sure #4 was a little bit easier for him. However, it is worth pointing out that Loeb is the main reason Yahoo is making this potential turnaround.Kudos to him, although they’re definitely not out of the woods yet.

  38. Matt A. Myers

    It’s all brilliant.People who are hating on Marissa Mayer don’t understand the value that a single person can have in influencing and impacting a whole company, its culture; There seemed to be a lot of stupid comments on blogs, articles, etc., along with a lot of positive of course.From the limited videos I’ve watched of her she is a very caring person, she is a friend, a counselor, and extremely smart. I’d actually enjoy “working at” Yahoo now over Google simply based on knowing she has a guiding hand there.I wrote a comment somewhere yesterday saying that Google better find an amazing replacement for her and fast. I was wondering if the Kevin Rose acquisition may have been apart of this, someone who may have a better holistic understanding of things, though he hasn’t had the same exposure and access to what Marissa has had over the years.What I’d really love to know, and I’m sure we’ll never know the full reason, is why she left Google. I highly doubt the main reason was monetary motivation. It’s more likely, in my mind, to be a internal politics reason where she’ll have less blockages on innovation and GSD/GTD.

    1. ErikSchwartz

      She left Google because there was no path forward for her there.

    2. JLM

      .About 18 months ago, Google underwent a stealth reorganization in which, by all accounts, she was dropped a rung in the hierarchy. That is like saying she was demoted from 4-star General with a combatant command to 4-star General with a staff command.Not big to the outside world but huge to 4-star Generals.At that level, this is how these things go.Someone must have put out a feeler with the title “CEO” on it and she must have said — why the hell not?When feeling disconnected, one makes adventurous decisions. She was after all employee #20 at Google and she must have had some FU $$$$ stored up.You have to know that everyone was on the same sheet of music for her to embrace such a challenge while getting ready to give birth.Now all she needs to complete the trifecta is a home remodeling and a parent moving in..

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Ahh. Didn’t realize this. That’s definitely pulling the Earth from right under someone running a marathon for you.It will be great to follow her. The only thing now that will dictate Yahoo’s success is competing with where the market will be. I’ll be in that battle. It’ll be fun..

        1. JLM

          .One of the great things about our times is that EVERYONE is playing against the future.You have to prevail against your competition but you also have to see and embrace the future.If you win the first battle, you can still lose the lose the second one.And it is not just what you produce it how it is how it is brought to the market.Two years from today, tablets will be infinitely more important as a delivery mechanism than they are today.You could win the current competition and lose the tablet delivery war..

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Good point.Now hopefully we can all fight to reduce friction of innovation (patents, etc) to help speed up this process, so humanity can reach a better place sooner.

      2. ShanaC

        the better question was why the demotion?

  39. Nik Souris

    Loves the Barksdale quote! “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Looks like Yahoo is trying to “Be Nice”! Hope it pays off.

  40. Chris Jacob

    It is a bold move no doubt but I personally don’t believe its the right move. Yahoo is a media company regardless of how they view themselves or what they think they are as circumstances and their own ineptness has meant they are now a Digital Media company. Their innovative technology days are almost a decade ago so a Tech CEO makes little sense. For the record if it was Gates, Jobs, Welch or Gerstner, I would prob say the same thing in terms of being the wrong fit.I will take everyone who knows her like you Fred and others at their word that she is dynamic and she obviously has had great success at Google. Yahoo need to concentrate on being the premier Premium digital content destination. Finance, Entertainment, News, Games, Email and they are already in a great place and a Media CEO would be better equipped and importantly have the contacts and klout in that playground. Yahoo are so far behind in Search, Display, Social, Mobile, Video so exactly what technology do they plan to compete in? It is not just something to say they can now innovate heavily and she will bring great people with her (which she no doubt will from Google and other great tech companies). She actually has to change Yahoo as a brand and make it relevant again from a non Media perspective and from a consumer perception standpoint. Will be first to eat humble pie if am proved wrong.Cj

  41. Ted Carroll

    1st child coming AND a huge new job? Judgement and priorities questionable.And Kara Swisher just subtly joined me in this -…

  42. leigh

    Gotta say, i LOVE the fact that they have hired a 37 yr old PREGNANT woman and most of the chatter is about her skills as a leader and her abilities to turn around or not Yahoo.I was once hired 5 months pregnant to open the Toronto office of a digital agency – defiantly takes a certain type of boss and Corporate culture to not let that get in the way which to me is a great sign of the way forward for Yahoo! that is much more tied to their roots and values as a creative innovation led brand.

    1. JamesHRH

      I must be ahead of the curve here – my wife was pregnant while being one of four people leading the design to build transition of a multi-billion dollar oil sands project.Only Results Matter comes to mind.Best story is my daughter doing some in vitro cheering while my wife dresses down a vendor…….

      1. leigh

        Calgary — so ahead of the curve.Did you guys see that Shell marketing hoax site? Keep wondering why they aren’t getting it taken down….

      2. LE

        “while being one of four people leading the design to build transition of a multi-billion dollar oil sands project.”Pretty cool.

    2. ShanaC

      I know, but she brings results to the table.I just wish this was the norm

  43. Nik Bonaddio

    Yahoo! was my first job right out of CMU; I was there for a little under three years before the lure of startups pulled me away. I still have the softest of soft spots for the company, in the same way that you’d still have a certain regard for the first love of your life. It was also however the most frustrating, backwards professional experience of my life – I didn’t have full cognizance of it at the time, of course – and I look back on it with nostalgia and rue in equal parts.I started in 2005, during the Terry Semel era of media and content. I personally disagreed with the direction because of the implicit rebranding of the company away from a technology innovator, but I was too green to know a real understanding of the actual problems that were crippling it. It has hard to see at first; Yahoo! was a very active campus recruiter at the more prestigious universities so the younger corps was very talented, and they combined that with a very Apple-like focus on UX, hiring some of the best talent in the field.The problem of course was an incredibly dense middle-management layer, one that was crippled by a culture of course maintenance and reticence to adopt anything new. The younger corps was coming up with fantastic ideas left and right; concepts of a social news feed, full oAuth integration, and many other ideas that would have been first to market were talked down and/or filibustered through the corporate hierarchy. This had the disastrous effect of not only making sure that no innovative products were being built, but ensuring that the younger corps was incredibly frustrated at the company’s lack of dexterity and unwilling to adopt the trends that were obviously approaching.It’s a good lesson for everyone to learn and certainly a lesson that I’ve tried to apply to my own company as we’ve grown: always move forward. The cost of systemically running scared is so much more than the cost of failing.

  44. markslater

    could not agree moreUs peons who know neither the company, nor marissa can look from afar and see a ship beginning to make a turn.

  45. Dave Pinsen

    My two modest suggestions for Marissa Mayer, from the perspective of someone who still uses Yahoo everyday.

  46. hypermark

    Let’s face it. Yahoo has long had good (enough) parts. Their challenge is that they’ve been poorly integrated, poorly supported and there’s been no corporate culture-defining narrative of “this is who we are, so this is what we build.”No one knows if Marissa Mayer will execute to the level that her credentials suggest she can, but the move definitely passes the “sniff test” of giving Yahoo some benefit of the doubt runway.Lots of challenges, but this aint RIMM. Yahoo has 3-5 services that most everyone uses over some chunk of their week, a massive installed base and some bones to build upon.

    1. thinkdisruptive

      I don’t know anyone who has used anything from Yahoo for several years. Getting them to even try something new from Yahoo will be a monumental task, as they’ve been viewed as irrelevant for a long time.

      1. hypermark

        I am sure that there are a ton of people like you, but the most recent numbers suggest that they have over 700M unique users worldwide per month, over 150M of which are in the US.I myself am the antitheses of a Yahoo lover, and still find myself using Yahoo Finance (daily), Sports (weekly), Flickr (monthly) and Groups (monthly).

        1. thinkdisruptive

          Agreed, the user base is still an asset. Inertia is a powerful thing.However, the momentum is in their decline. They aren’t a “cool” hot new engagement, social or anything else platform, so they aren’t going to get any natural positive buzz that comes with growth and discovery by the trend leaders.It will take more than keeping people from leaving to turn the ship. They have to become a cool destination again, with something unique to offer, and that will be extraordinarily difficult to pull off.

          1. hypermark

            Yeah, I am with you, and to be clear, gravity is not their friend, especially since they have had a few CEOs at this point, a few different abandoned strategies and few (if any) new product launches that have given consumers any reason to take a second look.My point is that that’s already ‘priced in’ to thinking about the company with consumers, advertisers, partners and investors.Yet, there are only 5-6 players with this type of durable audience, and with this type of baseline of services that have proven traction.Hence, IF Mayer can get the company to define what it is, can articulate what that means in terms of product direction, what they won’t do and what winning looks like, it doesn’t take a complete sea change for them to warrant a second look.This isn’t RIMM, is my point; namely, a company bleeding cash with irreversible negative momentum. But, it is one sick puppy.

          2. thinkdisruptive

            So, I’m just clarifying. You think RIMM is in trouble?It’s funny, because they don’t seem to.

          3. hypermark

            I think that short of a company like Microsoft acquiring them to milk the legacy business, they are dead. They are last generation devices promising a better next generation device (see Osborne effect) that is late and irrelevant, with a dead ecosystem and a wrong-headed belief that they can convert to more of a software play. Their continued refrain of “nothing to see folks” is indicative of blindness, denial, pride, and outright silliness.

          4. thinkdisruptive

            Perhaps the sarcasm didn’t come across. RIMM was dead the day the iPhone came out. ( Their culture and outlook did not permit them to see the change needed. It took 3 years for everyone else to realize it. RIMM still doesn’t. There is a fix, but it would require tossing all the senior management + the board, and it would still only have a 10-15% chance of success.

          5. hypermark

            I don’t think they were necessarily dead when iPhone came to be since the combination of enterprise mentality and legacy mentality is hard to dislodge, but to your point, there culture basically ensured the outcome.

          6. thinkdisruptive

            Disruption of that sort is very predictable. RIMM management got lucky and rode mobile email wave, but had no idea about the significance of iPhone as a handheld computer, nor any experience in that domain. Only belatedly did they start playing me-too catch up, but even then completely missed the point. They were dead the day iPhone came out. Just had to wait for a couple of product switching cycles to play out. One more cycle, and there is no RIMM.

  47. DCP

    Everyone in the tech community talks about how great Marisa is. And she probably makes a great presence at conferences and other places where tech folks would have come in contact with her.But…Have any of you used Google Local, the product she has been in charge of? It stinks. Image uploading crashes half the time. You randomly lose the ability to edit a profile and require a new postcard to be sent out. There are a variety of bugs. The product doesn’t offer a single original feature. There is no creativity.It is one of the worst products I have ever used in my life. With such talented engineers and such an easy ability to market the product, it could have been one of the best.I am shocked that no one has pointed this out.

    1. Owen

      She ran search for years and relatively recently took on local and has been improving it every day. How do you think Google search compares? Just asking.

      1. DCP

        Search was a company-wide effort. I have trouble giving her (or any other person aside from Sergey / Larry / possibly ES) significant credit for Google search.Local on the other hand, she ran and had power over. And it distinctly did not get better. I use this product regularly for several local businesses I run. Try claiming / creating a profile today and you’ll be shocked at how bad it is. There isn’t much of a point in arguing about it, just check it out:…You’ll be hard pressed to find a worse product with such widespread use.

  48. StartUpJerkFest

    it is impossible to read all these comments if you have a real job to do. otherwise it’s great for retired people who have lots of time on their hands.

    1. ShanaC

      I just read quickly….

    2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      It is a lot fo work!!. You might like using Engagio. I use Engagio and it helps to filter the comments to those I am following

  49. Owen

    Most Important 5 Things MM will do:1. Take back Yahoo Search, Search Ads, and Search Extension.2. Build Product Teams to manage and run key business units as independent businesses. ie, make Flickr a stand alone business to kick Instagram’s ass.3. Make Yahoo Mail rock and stop giving the email business to gmail. Leverage the Yahoo accounts to make peer to peer communication easy, simple, and more fluid and go after FB in the process.4. Make Yahoo fun, innovative, sought after, cool, interesting, compelling. The point about her appointment being a surprise is a great first step. 5. Streamline the business making it more and more efficient. MM is famous for her meetings and her ability to be a task master while retaining all the great product development qualities you need to create kick ass applications.What do you think will be top of the list?

    1. ShanaC

      Not important, except for the yahoo mail. Search is a dead end for now for yahoo. I think they have this terrific news site, with tv, with great content, with great understandings of how people use their sites. They should totally ramp up on the display side, which google has been agressively going after, and eat Google alive at that game.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I wonder if their ecommerce solutions are still in play. Plus if you get webhosting with AT&T or email through sbglobal Yahoo is on the backend. — I wonder how much of that type of business they do.

  50. Edoardo Moreni

    I wonder if this is enough to give life to yahoo once more. I guess they need to cut some unuseful services and restart the whole process as a startup, with innovation and creativity that a company in this situation needs.

  51. Jack Smith

    Fred, love the VoiceBunny integration; great to see that their viral marketing worked and it’s that you’ve embedded it.Fully agree with your sentiments. I think that Maynard Webb has to take some considerable credit for the work he’s put in on the Yahoo board after being betrayed by someone close to him in Scott Thompson.

  52. Ramin

    really historical about their CEO hiring

  53. Mark Gannon

    If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.Thanks! That’s my new email signature.

  54. Alex Williams

    That Jim Barksdale quote is my new mantra as a creative director.

  55. kidmercury

    today is a sad day. gone are the days where we could openly laugh at yahoo for being a place where innovation goes to die. gone are the days one of our friends who uses yahoo email would send an email from their yahoo address and we could make fun of them for it. gone are the days where someone would use yahoo to sign in to comment and we could justifiably downvote their comment just for that.let us cherish the jokes that the yahoo of old gave us. i suggest we now turn our attention to what is quite possibly the easiest target of all: romney supporters. #romneyistheoldyahooobama obviously sucks too to anyone paying attention and willing to see the truth, but romney is such just an easy target i suggest we focus on him…..hahhaha… know probably 80% of his supporters supported bush jr which says it all right there…….hahhahahaha

    1. Antony Chen

      Oh c’mon. Are you making fun of the echo chamber or a part of it? I saw this piece on AllThingsD and it reminded me of how fickle we all are:…. How much you want to bet this article would’ve had a very different title and tone if the news regarding Marissa hadn’t come out yesterday?As far as your assertion we should make fun of Romney supporters, I think the entire process is laughable, but unfortunately, we’re talking about selecting the leader of the free world which all of a sudden, makes it not so funny.

      1. kidmercury

        i’m making fun of yahoo because they suck. i know they make money, but i don’t think making money necessarily means one doesn’t suck. they’ve had an identity crisis for some time now. the one cool thing they’ve done is yahoo pipes.the US stopped being a free world or a leader a long time ago. i hope that through the process of making fun of romney we can enjoy ourselves while shattering the ego of his supporters, for it is their ego that makes them unwilling to see the rather obvious folly of their ways and cling to their obsolete, party-centric view that holds themselves and the world back.

  56. Andrew

    She is only one person. She needs to recruit like a college football coach does. This is her #1 priority. She cannot rebuilt alone. I would love to see her bring a consistant look and feel to the yahoo properties. I love Google because the UI is fairly consistant throughout. When yahoo acquires they just slap a Yahoo! logo on the site and migrate the logins. This needs to change and I think she will enforce a consistant look going forward. It will make a difference.

  57. John Rorick

    As a totally unrelated sidebar (kind of), James Dolan and the Knicks are dead to me. David Aldridge wrote a great article on the clear sense of keeping Lin and it just made me more depressed knowing they are not : can not take this abuse anymore. At what point can I reserve the right to emancipate myself from my childhood basketball team? I think there are rules against that but given @fredwilson:disqus is a big Knick fan I will admit to hijacking this thread for a moment.Now, back to bashing pregnancy as a limit on CEO performance 🙂



    1. John Revay

      Simple and Clear my friend!

  59. David Cohen

    Yahoo is still dead to me – until Marissa Mayer actually does something.

  60. John@PGISelfDirected

    Isn’t she the one who’s pregnant? Hurray for motherhood, too!

  61. AlexHammer

    Mayer may or may not be the answer but it strains credibility to say one is surprised Yahoo was able to recruit her. Despite Yahoo’s decline CEO jobs of this caliber are in short supply and it is a major career move up for Mayer. She was, as was well publicized, languishing at Google. Too much insider baseball here I think, as they’re all chummy. Be happy for your friend but be (more) objective.

  62. mother of 3

    “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.” Do any of you have any data on whether a pregnant woman can be a successful CEO? I didn’t think so. Let’s go with her opinion on whether she can handle Yahoo.

  63. Donna Brewington White

    I love that you called it a “hissy fit.”

    1. fredwilson

      that’s what it was

  64. laurie kalmanson

    if she succeeds at fixing yahoo! maybe she could fix microsoft nextalso, re pregnancy: maybe one day it won’t be worth noting, but today, it very much is — a company is accepting a woman’s impending parenthood as not derailing her career, but coexisting with it. this is still remarkable at all levels.

  65. Locally

    We will say it again. Yahoo does not have a Leadership problem. They have a Follower problem.

  66. William Mougayar

    I think your quote applies to Marissa Mayer. We have no data on her record as a CEO. So, in the absence of data, the jury is still out!

  67. Techman

    I use Windows Live Hotmail as my email. I do hope that all this back and forth Yahoo stuff does stop, it seems like a waste of time, and it is wasting their money.

  68. LE

    Perhaps when you find the time you could elaborate.

  69. LE

    Great video with Tereza (just watched it). Anne Mulcahy though of Xerox had absolutely nothing to say and was just echoing back things she had read. It was like a man on the street interview masquerading as an authoritative opinion.

  70. Donna Brewington White

    She was great. I wish they had just interviewed her, no offense to Pattie. I kept waiting for her to finish so that I could hear @Tereza:disqus.