Mayer Needs to Be a Strategic Visionary

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-07-17 Print this article Print


Another analyst, however, Shar vanBoskirk of Forrester Research, wrote that she's "disappointed" about Mayer's selection. In a blog post late Monday, vanBoskirk wrote that Mayer doesn't fit Yahoo's needs, despite her long experience and competitive knowledge garnered at Google.

"Yahoo needs a strategic visionary, not a product engineer," vanBoskirk wrote. "Yahoo€™s fundamental problem is that it has too many disparate products with no clear unifying thread that ties them all together. And Mayer's background is in product development ... not corporate strategy, not marketing, not brand definition ... the areas where Yahoo has the most critical need."

VanBoskirk wrote that she's also worried that Mayer's hiring "signals yet another shift in strategic vision for Yahoo,€ where there have been four different business strategies over the last four years. €œI €¦ hate that Yahoo can't identify and stick with a clear strategy for more than about 10 months," she wrote.

Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, thinks Yahoo took a smart step with the hiring. "I can't think of a better person that they could have chosen," he said. "She provides a really interesting mix of business and technological savvy and a blend of those two qualities is what's required at a company like Yahoo."

Part of what the choice shows, King said, is that Yahoo is really digging in and looking to finally solidify its direction. "This is something for the long term, not an interim step," he said. "What we've seen with Yahoo over the last couple years is that they€™ve tried to bring the company back twice with tech-minded CEOs, then the last two guys were pure business CEOs."

What's needed now is a CEO who can earn the respect of both the business community and the technology people inside the company," King said. "You€™ve got to get in and fix the problems within the corporate culture."

Mayer replaces interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who had subbed eight weeks for Scott Thompson, who served as CEO for four months, January to May 2012, before he was let go for embellishing his resume and then covering up the falsehoods.

Mayer becomes Yahoo€™s second female CEO. Carol Bartz was the 17-year-old company€™s first, serving from 2009 to 2011, and its fifth in the last year.

Mayer is a 1997 Stanford University graduate and a native of Wausau, Wisc., who worked for SRI International in Menlo Park, Calif., and UBS Research in Zurich briefly prior to joining Google.

Most recently, Mayer was responsible for Local, Maps and Location Services for Google, the company's suite of local and geographical products, including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View and local search, for desktop and mobile.

Mayer led group efforts for many of Google's most strategic products, including the development of its flagship search product and iconic home page for more than 10 years.

Since 2007, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo has had seven CEOs: former Warner Bros. Chairman and co-CEO Terry Semel (2001-2007), co-founder Jerry Yang (2007-2009), Bartz (2009-2011), interim Tim Morse, Thompson, interim Levinsohn, and now Mayer. Semel resigned in 2007, with Yang replacing him. Tim Koogle (1995-2001) was the original Yahoo CEO.


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