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

1 - Marissa Mayer's Leadership: 10 Ways She's Restoring Yahoo's Fortunes
2 - So Long, Telecommuting
3 - A Major Tumblr Buy
4 - Keep Only High-Performers, Please
5 - Big Names Might Pay Off
6 - Small Corporate Buys Abound
7 - Search Isn't So Important Anymore
8 - It's All About Ads
9 - Oh, It's Also All About Mobile
10 - The Living Room Still Matters
11 - So Not-Google, It Hurts
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Marissa Mayer's Leadership: 10 Ways She's Restoring Yahoo's Fortunes

by Don Reisinger

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.