Yesterday, Yahoo named the photogenic Marissa Mayer as CEO. The tech gal extraordinaire was previously the affable public face of Google at groupthink events around the world. This should be much funnier than the Carol Bartz fiasco.
I have zero faith that this is going to work out. It's not because of Mayer, although there are apparent problems with her résumé insofar as this job is concerned. First, she's never been a CEO. Second, she's never been groomed to be a CEO or she would have stayed at Google.
She isn't old enough or experienced enough to deal with a company the size of Yahoo. Mayer, who by all accounts is a genius and probably three times smarter than I am, is also quite unfamiliar with snake pits.
A snake pit, for those who don't know, is a company that has deteriorated over time to become so dysfunctional and disorganised that nobody can deal with all the snakes lurking in the grass. I mean, if the foul-mouthed toughie Carol Bartz couldn't handle the pit, how can someone as genteel as Mayer?
I am guessing there are at least 100 resentful executives who just hate the idea that the miserable board of directors hired an outsider – a Googler, no less – to run the company. And who can blame them? The board never seems to want someone from inside the firm, someone who actually knows the company and its foibles. By the time a CEO figures out what's what, the newbie is totally screwed over by the old-timers.
Relatively speaking, Mayer is a kid. She looks 20-something, at the most. These 100 resentful executives will make her life miserable. It will be death by a million cuts. When she finally finds where the knives are coming from, it will be too late.
Look at what happened to Carol Bartz. She was unceremoniously fired after she made endless attempts to push a boulder uphill. Then the board got rid of Thompson for character flaws. Let's not forget Terry Semel, the most idiotic choice for a CEO in the history of Silicon Valley. He tried a few things, saw the way the wind blows, and spent most of his time in Hollywood with his friends until the hammer fell.
I'm not sure why Mayer – or anyone else for that matter – would take this post when it is apparent that nobody can actually do this job under the current circumstances. By everyone's analysis, the company is very unfocused, incredibly disorganised, and resistant to fixes.
We should always remember that Yahoo does indeed make money, and is still a big player in the portal game. Also, Yahoo is actually the number one news site in the world, although it's hard to tell why. When it comes to news content, it has pretty much only developed its sports reporting. Whoever is running the sports pages should be promoted, but nobody knows who it is or apparently cares.
I personally use Yahoo Finance when I'm looking up stocks. It's extremely well organised and pleasant to use. There must be another person there who needs advancement. But again, it is a low-profile, anonymous soul. We never actually know who works at the company, do we?
I've run into old friends who I haven't seen in ages, and I'm stunned when they tell me they’ve been working at Yahoo for the last five years. "Doing what?!?!" I ask. They always shrug their shoulders and give me a goofy look.
Mayer's skill set is search and community. Yahoo already threw away its search franchise when it partnered with Microsoft and I doubt she'll reverse that deal. I have no idea what she'll do. Perhaps the board at Yahoo hired her as a stop gap, and to mess with Google by getting her to quit.
I sent her a congratulatory tweet, wishing her good luck. I never heard back.