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Marissa Mayer Says Marissa Mayer ‘Would Love to Be Running Yahoo’ Next Year

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer did an interview with Charlie Rose tonight on PBS, “in an exclusive hour-long conversation about her vision for the company.”

And what’s that, you ask? Pretty much more of the same of the stuff that has not worked so far for the Silicon Valley Internet giant under her tenure. More interesting, of course, is the public relations initiative Mayer is now clearly on to try to convince shareholders that she is the rightful leader of the company.

That included adding two new board members earlier today — a former banker who specialized in health care and a CFO of a semiconductor company — in what amounts to a slap in the face of activist shareholder Starboard Value. Starboard is prepping a proxy fight against Mayer that is likely to launch within weeks.

One thing sources said Starboard is seeking is the departure of Mayer. Which is why it was fascinating that when asked by Rose if she would be the CEO of Yahoo in a year, Mayer used the conditional tense.

“Yeah, I think that, again, like I would love to,” she said. “I would love to be running Yahoo. We have a three-year strategic plan.”

For those who just joined the show: That is a new three-year strategic plan, after the first three-year strategic plan she created did not work.

There is lots more, including her explaining why an expected full write-down of the much-touted Tumblr acquisition made the buy a success. Rose’s peeps sent over “un-embargoed excerpts,” whatever that means, and I will see what the embargoed utterances are soon enough.

Here is what Mayer said so far:
Charlie Rose:
Why is there so much criticism of Yahoo!? They look at what you have done since 2012, and they say, she came in, and there was a flurry of acquisitions, including Tumblr. And most of them didn’t work.
Marissa Mayer:
Well, I wouldn’t say that we — I actually think they did work. I think that it really was a matter of, we needed to rebuild some of the talent base. We had, at the time, 50 engineers in a company of 14,000, working on mobile. Today we have more than 500 engineers working on mobile. We are one of the biggest app development shops in the world. I’m really proud of that. But we had to build that somehow. We built that through talent acquisitions. And so we saw the benefits of those acquisitions in the form of our mobile. Because of, you know, various succumbing rules, yes, we did see a write-down.
But in my view, that’s not because those acquisitions weren’t successful.
Charlie Rose:
Even with respect to Tumblr.
Marissa Mayer:
Yes. And Tumblr obviously, we are — have fallen slightly behind where we hoped to be in terms of our plans. But I’m still very optimistic about Tumblr. It’s a great platform, especially for millennials. We see the time spent there being really, really high.
And overall, I think it’s a great opportunity to take things like native advertising and mobile. And, you know, Tumblr is growing really nicely overall in terms of mobile daily active users, and it’s a really creative, expressive platform.
Charlie Rose:
Look at the 3.5 years or so … since you’ve been there. And here we are in March of 2016. When you look at what has happened, what did you do wrong?
Marissa Mayer:
I think that — well, one, I don’t think the story has yet played out. And I think that when we look at this, we’ve rolled out a new strategic plan for the company, and we can see the turnaround. A lot of tech turnaround adds we do take five, six, seven years, and their …
Charlie Rose:
And, frankly, it doesn’t happen. I mean, it’s rare once they’re able to turn a tech company around, Apple being one and …
Marissa Mayer:
And I can — I can see our strategic plan and we can see how it’s really working, and it’s 600 million mobile users, $1.6 billion of mobile video native and social. We like to call it Mavens revenue.
You know, those are — that’s the future that we built ourselves. When I came to Yahoo! in 2012, I came because I really wanted to work hard. I thought it was a great challenge. Well, I sat down and met with all the different business leaders and viewed all the different business signs. Every single one was a decline.
Charlie Rose:
… It (Yahoo) had gone through a series of CEOs.
Marissa Mayer:
Yes. I was the seventh CEO in 61 months. And so they — you know, but all those business lines were in decline. And so, you know, I came in. I thought, Wow, this is even harder than we thought it would be. Went to the board and said, okay, we have a problem because if we’re going to do a turnaround, we have to get these business lines growing again. No one knows how to get these business lines growing again. Yahoo!, over the years, had been the king of the banner ad. Banner ads are still very popular and they’re still very effective, but they …
Charlie Rose:
… But mobile is where the action is.
Marissa Mayer:
… but mobile’s where the action is. Programmatic is taking over. We had to build ourselves a new future. And we had to build it quickly enough and to a scale that actually matters to Yahoo! today. Our mobile video and native revenue is material overall to the company.
And we’re really proud of that. We had to take it from, you know, a few million dollars to today, you know, a billion dollars. It’s one of the fastest growing business lines I’ve ever seen in my career. And, you know, so I’m very, very proud of what we did.”
Charlie Rose:
Do you think you’ll be running Yahoo! a year from now? I ask that because people ask that.
Marissa Mayer:
Yeah, I think that, again, like I would love to. I would love to be running Yahoo! We have a three-year strategic plan. I can see how it will work and how we can actually get to the successful turnaround of Yahoo! But I think that, you know, it’s about our users. And it’s about our employees. And you know, what’s happening with all of them.
I would certainly hope that our services are here a year from now and that they run even better than they do today. And I can see it — that should easily be the outcome. And we have a terrific team at Yahoo! and I really hope that they’re allowed to continue on to do the good work.
Charlie Rose:
But is your biggest challenge right now to — and you’re here in this interview, and you don’t do many of these, and you — it is to convince not only your employees who I assume believe with you, but convince the investment community and convince the people that this is a plan that will work and will work and it will have the power of
reducing — of changing the attitude that the investment community has
about these assets.
Marissa Mayer:
I think when the business really starts to grow, that type of change in the investment community will happen. And so the biggest challenge that we see is around mobile engagement. We have 600 million users. How do we get those apps to be 600 million monthly users, but how do we get coming every day? How do we build products that they need to have …
Charlie Rose:
So how do you do that?
Marissa Mayer:
… every day. And so we’re looking at that. We’re looking at how do we invest in mail and communications. Communications is the biggest driver of frequency of use of anything. Think about how many times a day you check your email on your phone or text someone or message someone. So there’s a great opportunity around communications, but also how do we, you know, make our applications the best they can — the best applications for news, for search, for sports, and finance and lifestyles, and we’re working really hard on all of those areas, because we think that by creating great tools that can be used on the phone and putting them together in the right way you can ultimately really build a user base that comes much more frequently and finds alot more utility and value in the applications and we already are really highly valued in news, but we want to really even increase that frequency.

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