Marissa Mayer's Leadership: 10 Ways She's Restoring Yahoo's Fortunes

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2014-01-09 Print this article Print

When Marissa Mayer was at Google, she was viewed as one of the fastest-rising and prominent executives at the company. Mayer started at Google in 1999 as the company's 20th employee. An engineer, she quickly impressed her bosses and proved instrumental in the development of everything from Search to Google News to Google Maps. When Yahoo appointed Mayer CEO in July 2012, it wasn't immediately clear how she would perform in a long-established Web company that that had spent years trying to return to growth after finding itself overshadowed by a burgeoning Google. But in short order, Mayer got a grip on Yahoo's challenges. Yahoo started making major acquisitions and has restored investor interest in the company. (Yahoo's shares have more than doubled since she took office). It's perhaps too soon to say for sure that Mayer will be the person to lead Yahoo back to long-term prosperity, but so far, she has make a good start. At just 38 years old, she has plenty of time to make an even greater mark on Yahoo and the IT industry. Read on to learn more about what Mayer has done to lead Yahoo out from under her former employer's shadow.

  • Marissa Mayer's Leadership: 10 Ways She's Restoring Yahoo's Fortunes

    by Don Reisinger
    1 - Marissa Mayer's Leadership: 10 Ways She's Restoring Yahoo's Fortunes
  • So Long, Telecommuting

    Despite calls from some workers and managers for enterprises to support telecommuting, Marissa Mayer made a surprising move last year to eliminate telecommuting at Yahoo. The decision was based partly on her belief that more innovation can happen when everyone is in the office working together. Mayer was criticized for it. But Yahoo, a historically telecommuting-friendly company, is now quite the opposite.
    2 - So Long, Telecommuting
  • A Major Tumblr Buy

    When Yahoo announced that it had acquired the micro-blogging service Tumblr for $1.1 billion, Mayer apparently believed that in order for her company to grow, it needed to own more of the major Web destinations. With new blogs being added each second, Tumblr seemed the ideal choice for Yahoo. During her CES keynote Jan. 7, Mayer talked how important Tumblr is to Yahoo and explained how she plans on earning a healthy return on the money Yahoo invested in Tumblr.
    3 - A Major Tumblr Buy
  • Keep Only High-Performers, Please

    Mayer again drew criticism in 2013 after announcing that the company would grade employees on a bell curve. According to reports, managers would fire employees who placed at the bottom of the bell curve. Of course, companies around the globe have such systems in place to maintain a certain talent level, but the fact that Mayer has become so intent on using it speaks to her desire to see Yahoo up its game.
    4 - Keep Only High-Performers, Please
  • Big Names Might Pay Off

    Big names matter to Yahoo. During her CES keynote, Mayer brought on stage long-time New York Times columnist and now Yahoo employee David Pogue. The tech writer announced Yahoo Tech, a new magazine-like destination on the Web. Mayer also touted her hiring of Katie Couric to anchor the Yahoo News team. So far, Mayer seems to believe that big names can draw more people to Yahoo.
    5 - Big Names Might Pay Off
  • Small Corporate Buys Abound

    It wouldn't be a CES announcement without Yahoo announcing at least one acquisition. The company has been buying small firms at a rapid pace since Mayer took over. This time around, Mayer announced the acquisition of Aviate, a company that has developed an improved user interface for smartphone home pages. Aviate has become one of many acquisitions Yahoo has made since Mayer took over. In 2013, alone, Mayer acquired 23 companies. It appears 2014 might be just as busy for Yahoo.
    6 - Small Corporate Buys Abound
  • Search Isn't So Important Anymore

    Although Yahoo was once an important Web search company, it appears Mayer doesn't want to spend too much time worrying about it. Yahoo will always offer a search service, but Mayer's recent acquisitions and the bulk of her CES talk on Jan. 7 indicate that the company is concentrating on content, mobile and advertising.
    7 - Search Isn't So Important Anymore
  • It's All About Ads

    Since the bulk of Yahoo's revenue comes from ads, it's not surprising that Mayer spent so much time discussing monetization during her CES keynote. With its new site launches, like Yahoo Tech, the company is trying to bring on more sponsored stories and de-emphasize a long-standing money-making tool—banner ads. On the Tumblr side, Yahoo announced that Yahoo Advertising now powers the micro-blogging site's sponsored ads. Yahoo will also leverage its audience data to attract more advertisers. The company even announced a Yahoo Ad Exchange. Mayer is serious about improving Yahoo's ad sales.
    8 - It's All About Ads
  • Oh, It's Also All About Mobile

    Mobile is also extremely important to Yahoo. Mayer spent considerable time talking about Yahoo's gains in mobile, including how the overall use of its apps on smartphones and tablets has skyrocketed in recent years. If one were to examine Yahoo's recent acquisitions, quite a few came from the mobile space. Mayer seems committed to taking Yahoo mobile well into the future.
    9 - Oh, It's Also All About Mobile
  • The Living Room Still Matters

    One of the key elements of Yahoo's CES keynote was discussing how the company delivers content-based user behavior. Mayer said that's why she acquired Aviate and said that Yahoo has itself performed more than 600 experiments in the past year to analyze user behavior. With all that as a backdrop, Yahoo announced an update to its TV-based services provided through the Yahoo Smart TV app. That service will focus heavily on curating content and offering recommendations based on user viewing data. Like so many other companies at CES, Yahoo has its sights set on your living room.
    10 - The Living Room Still Matters
  • So Not-Google, It Hurts

    When Mayer became Yahoo CEO, some observers asked whether she would try to turn the company into Google. Now, more than a year into her tenure, it's clear she has no plans to be Google. Along with advertising, her previous employer relies heavily on search and Web services that help people communicate or make them more productive. Under Mayer, however, Yahoo has decided to become a destination for content-seekers and content creators. Yahoo also wants to be a popular tool on mobile and on televisions. Mayer has little interest, it seems, in building a Google Docs killer or launching her own social network to compete with Google+. What Mayer wants is for Yahoo to become a place people want to go to every day to find out what's happening in their world, through Tumblr, and around the world, through its content engine.
    11 - So Not-Google, It Hurts

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