Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!
A page-turning narrative about Marissa Mayer's efforts to remake Yahoo as well as her own rise from Stanford University undergrad to CEO of a $30 billion corporation by the age of 38.
When Yahoo hired star Google executive Mayer to be its CEO in 2012 employees rejoiced. They put posters on the walls throughout Yahoo's California headquarters. On them there was Mayer's face and one word: HOPE. But one year later, Mayer sat in front of those same employees in a huge cafeteria on Yahoo's campus and took the beating of her life. Her hair wet and her tone defensive, Mayer read and answered a series of employee-posed questions challenging the basic elements of her plan. There was anger in the room and, behind it, a question: Was Mayer actually going to be able to do this thing?
MARISSA MAYER AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE YAHOO! is the inside story of how Yahoo got into such awful shape in the first place, Marissa Mayer's controversial rise at Google, and her desperate fight to save an Internet icon.
In August 2011 hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb took a long look at Yahoo and decided to go to war with its management and board of directors. Loeb then bought a 5% stake and began a shareholder activist campaign that would cost the jobs of three CEOs before he finally settled on Google's golden girl Mayer to unlock the value lurking in the company. As Mayer began to remake Yahoo from a content company to a tech company, an internal civil war erupted.
In author Nicholas Carlson's capable hands, this riveting book captures Mayer's rise and Yahoo's missteps as a dramatic illustration of what it takes to grab the brass ring in Silicon Valley. And it reveals whether it is possible for a big lumbering tech company to stay relevant in today's rapidly changing business landscape.
world. Then she took over a flailing Autodesk, kicked out its beloved founder, and turned the place into a fast-growing machine. All of them were heralded hires into Yahoo. All of them failed. So might Mayer. Ultimately, Yahoo suffers from the fact that the reason it ever succeeded in the first place was because it solved a global problem that lasted for only a moment. The early Internet was hard to use, and Yahoo made it easier. Yahoo was the Internet. Then the Internet was flooded with
more than a decade—not since Jeff Mallett got off that plane in Zurich. On August 1, 2014, Mayer announced that after two years of FYI meetings, URLs was finally going to be refurbished to host them every week. A new, permanent stage was coming. So was a giant screen. New TVs would be hung from the columns spaced throughout the cafeteria. Then Mayer told a story. This week, I’ve been doing town halls with a lot of the different groups and it’s been fun, because a lot of the questions that
exams. He put three complex questions on a whiteboard, started a stopwatch, and told the applicant to solve everything in fifteen minutes. Go. Yahoo developed a reputation for having the best engineers in the Valley. It was the place to work. By the start of 1999, Yahoo had expanded to China and Germany and Australia. It had an impressive list of partners—huge brands like Visa and MTV. Yahoo was at the table for every mergers and acquisitions (M&A) deal that went through Silicon Valley. It was
providing less traffic. During Bartz’s first year at Yahoo, the company was also rapidly overtaken by Facebook in the business of selling the Internet’s other kind of ads: display ads, also known as brand advertising and sometimes called banner advertising. In the first quarter of 2009, when Bartz joined, Yahoo’s share of display advertising impressions in the United States was just under 15 percent, according to comScore. Yahoo was number one in the market, with MySpace owner Fox Interactive
Castro. Then, in June, all of Yahoo’s top advertising and media executives traveled to France for the Cannes Lions festival. Cannes is a hugely important event in the world of advertising sales, because all the biggest brands and their agencies attend, hang out on yachts, and party. Mayer didn’t go, leaving De Castro to be her delegate. But then, while the festival was still going on, Mayer learned Yahoo’s second-quarter numbers. They were bad: $1.13 billion versus $1.21 billion the year