Yahoo's Controversial Board Appointment Dominates Shareholder Meeting

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2014-06-25 Print this article Print

Yahoo's 2013 successes were overshadowed during its shareholder meeting by the controversial appointment of former Walmart CEO H. Lee Scott to its board.

Another shareholder noted that the Yahoo board "doesn't include a single person of color." Lee is white, and so are Charles Schwab Jr. and David Filo, the other men who were voted onto the board during the meeting. The board, this person pointed out, "needs a member who can help overcome, rather than reinforce, inequities."

Webb responded that Yahoo puts diversity "front and center" and that "30 percent of the board members are women." (CEO Mayer and retired Ernst & Young partner Sue James, also a white woman.) He added that Yahoo will "continue to work on this important topic."

Yahoo's Year of Progress

Repeating something of a Yahoo mantra, Mayer opened her presentation by saying that Yahoo's mission is to "make the world's daily habits inspiring and entertaining."

The average mobile device user checks his device 150 times a day, said Mayer, adding, "The opportunity to participate in that is tremendous."

The plan to participate involves a cycle, she said: Hire great people, who build engaging products, which lead to increased traffic, which lead to increased revenue.

Hiring has doubled since 2012, she said, and 40 percent of 2013 hires were engineers.

Yahoo also brought in new leadership, some of which is helping it build "editorial excellence" in its growing number of digital magazines. It most recently added Yahoo Movie and Yahoo Beauty to Yahoo Food, Yahoo Tech and Yahoo Screen.

Yahoo also narrowed its areas of focus down to search, communications, digital magazines and video.

The "levers" that need to be pulled to deliver growth, she said, are mobile, native, social and video.

The mobile component involves those 150 daily check-ins with one's display. On the video front, Yahoo has committed to streaming a live concert every day for a year.

It has also created native advertising that "dovetails" with its digital media content, Mayer explained, showing a Splenda ad that was barely distinguishable from the editorial content on Yahoo Food.

Regarding social, "At Yahoo it's all about Tumblr," said Mayer, adding that the platform doesn't limit brands to a certain number of words and lets them "express themselves however they see fit." Plus, while traditional social content has really no longevity, on Tumblr, 30 percent of engagements with content happen 30 days after a post goes up.

Discussing Yahoo's meetings to address "PB&J"—process, bureaucracy and jam—Mayer said that more than 1,000 things had been fixed.

"Nothing is too small [to help make a difference]," she said. "It all builds toward a better culture."


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