Marissa Mayer, Former Google Exec, Becomes CEO of Yahoo! While Expecting a Baby – Some Thoughts

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer poses at Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters, in this February 24, 2009 file photo. (Source: REUTERS/Noah Berger/Files)

Marissa Mayer, former Google executive and project manager of some of Google’s most well-known products, became CEO of Yahoo! on July 16th, effective the following day, while expecting a baby due in October.

With regards to becoming the new CEO of Yahoo at age 37 (currently the youngest CEO for a Fortune 500 company) I would like to share some personal thoughts here:

Can she handle the stress and challenge

There is no doubt that Marissa Mayer can handle the stress of being a top executive of arguably the largest internet company in the world. However, the question comes down to whether she can go from working in a successful company with lots of money (though she started working there as employee #20 in 1999) to trying to restore the dignity to a formerly-successful company barely gasping for air. If track records say something, she will be the sixth one in five years trying to do this, and that’s not to say that the previous five Yahoo! CEO’s were incompetents. Not only that, she will be managing well over 10,000 people whereas before the most she ever managed was in the lower thousands. She may have the nerves of steel, having been known to work 130-hour long work weeks, but it will be a real test for her to see if she doesn’t mentally “break” from having to put out fires. From personal experience in fighting more fires than getting real work done, I can attest that this is a very different kind of “work.”

Is she trying to form a merger with Google, or has she gone to the other side for good?

This is a question that, as absurd as it sounds, needs to be asked. “Gotta ask the question.” One wonders if Sergey Brin and Larry Page look beyond the almighty dollar these days and would want to partner with Yahoo! now that Marissa Mayer is in charge. Or, are the wounds too deep to heal, even with time?

Has she been lured to the dark side?

It seems that, in a way, yes, she has. Marissa Mayer has supposedly joined Yahoo! for one reason: POWER. She had advanced to a certain point with Google in 2009 and 2010, but in 2011 she was passed up for an important promotion and, while her products were being showcased by Google in the past, in recent months this has not been the case. She realized that she had hit a glass ceiling and needed to move on. Therefore she needed to join the “dark side” of the Yahoo/Microsoft/Facebook alliance to advance in power at a relatively young age.

What will be the focus of Yahoo!? Search?

This will likely be Marissa Mayer’s biggest challenge. I personally cannot see Yahoo! at this stage succeeding in Search. First of all, Bing now powers it. Second, Google’s constant changing of their algorithm puts them light-years ahead in terms of Search. Thirdly, it’s “been done before.” Fourth, the timing of entry is way too late and companies trying to compete before have been made to look bad (remember Cuil? thought so). Fifth, Search was the primary topic of both Sergey Brin’s and Larry Page’s research papers at Stanford when they were going for their PHD’s.

Also, I can state from past experience in running Paid Search campaigns for both Google and Yahoo/Bing is that, while one can get clicks for Bing at a fraction of the cost of Google Adwords, you generally get much fewer clicks as nobody seems to care to search on Yahoo/Bing, even with the ad on the very top of the page.

With other products it will be interesting. Yahoo! Mail is now one of the most-hacked systems, however, there’s always Yahoo! Games, Flickr, and Finance. Why Yahoo! gave up Delicious to Google in the past is anyone’s guess. Therefore it will be interesting to see what Yahoo’s focus will be as right now, there doesn’t seem to be any.

Is Yahoo looking to grow, or are they trying to buy out as high as possible?

As soon as Marissa Mayer was appointed at the helm, Yahoo’s stock rose to $15.60 (at the time of this posting it’s at $15.92) and one wonders if Yahoo appointed her in order for employees and shareholder to redeem their stock holdings as high as possible and cut their losses. No clue, but that’s what it would seem from the surface if for no other reason.

How will Junior be managed?

That is the question every mother has to figure out: How will she manage the challenge of raising a child in a loving, caring manner while going nuts trying to figure out this whole Yahoo! thing? Who will the child grow up saying “Mama” to, his/her mother or the full-time babysitter that’s expected to be hired for the job? Or, will Zachary Bogue be the stay-at-home-dad (part-time or full)? Only time will tell.

Has Google Become Evil?

Google’s famous motto has always been in the past to “do no evil.” However, one must wonder if that still is the case. Google has always explained that their primary objective here was to improve search and nothing else. However, the company’s grown so large that this needs to be questioned.

Marissa Mayer may have left because Google denied her a huge promotion. Could there have been something deeper? Something that the top execs at Google may have wanted to hide from her? Or was she too much of a security risk to continue having at Google? In any case, Yahoo now has someone that can easily give away parts of Google’s special sauce to Yahoo and that might turn out to be the beginning of the end for Google.

The following Google documentary video was launched 6-7 years ago. In the video, someone asked Marissa Mayer, at the time the Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at Google, why people should feel Google can be entrusted with personal information. Later, Ms. Mayer was asked how people would react to the knowledge that their “privacy” information can be divulged to the US government. In each case, Ms. Mayer looked clearly flustered. It’s worth the time to look at her reactions on the video clip. Especially take note on minutes 23:00 through 26:00.

Conclusion

What’s more to say? On one hand, congratulations to Marissa Mayer’s recent appointment, though many in the tech world likely are shocked at this recent development. Still, there are many things “under the hood” that we may never really know about until events unravel. It’s too early to tell from here.

 

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