After an embarrassing and distracting string of three CEOs just since January, Yahoo appears to be making a determined effort to get things back on track with its announcement July 16 that Google executive Marissa Mayer will now head Yahoo's operations as CEO and president.
The question that remains, however, is Mayer, 37, the right person to lead Yahoo, which just a decade ago was one of the first angels of the dot-com boom? Could Mayer's hiring be just another step in a steady death spiral of Yahoo CEOs, or could this be the stabilizing choice that can finally get the company back on a road to success?
In interviews with several IT analysts, the choice of Mayer is garnering mostly positive reviews for Yahoo, which has been overtaken in the last decade by direct competitor, Google, in the search marketplace. It makes it even more interesting that Mayer hails from Google, where she was one of that company's first 20 hires in June 1999and the company's first female developerwhen it was just getting started.
"I really think this is a great move for Yahoo," said analyst Dave Schubmehl of IDC. "If anybody can do it, I think she has a really great chance of making this happen" and turning the company's fortunes around. Mayer "has been really instrumental in a lot of the Google work that is most popular, such as Google mail, and she redesigned the Google search page. She basically has a lot of background in the technology side and in the user-interaction side. Those are areas where Yahoo could potentially make a difference."
By bringing in Mayer and her diverse experience and technology leadership, Yahoo can now work toward merging its existing strengthsa pool of talented people and plenty of good researchto come up with new products that can ultimately earn new money for the company, said Schubmehl. "She might be the right lady for the time."
Another analyst, Dan Keldsen of Information Architected, said that while Mayer has all the necessary experience in leadership, innovation, technology and being a geek to be a success in her new job, the problem is that Google and Yahoo are two very different entities.
"The challenge is that Google and Yahoo arent anywhere near the same kind of company, so I dont think her experience at Google automatically translates over directly to Yahoo," Keldsen said. "Google is a search engine company where most of their money is made through ads, while Yahoo is a portal company, which is more of a media company."
At the same time, Mayer does have experience in media through her work at Google, he said. "The question is, can any CEO step in" and get things back on track. "Yahoo's not dead and it's not dying. It's just kind of sitting there. Can she make enough of an impact that both employees and the market as a whole begin to feel that the future is possible? Right now, they're just waiting around. I think the door is wide open for her to make a big impact."