Marissa Mayer has been in charge of Yahoo for two and a half years, proving to investors and skeptics that she is more than just “number five” on the revolving door of technology CEO’s in 2014.
During her two years as CEO, Mayer has changed the culture inside of the company, focussing on a “startup style” mentality and on the end-user. Mayer has also pushed for a focus on mobile, instead of the ageing desktop platform.
Acquisitions have played a major part in Mayer’s reconstruction of Yahoo, including Tumblr for $1.1 billion (£720 million), Brightroll for $640 million (£420 million) and Flurry for $200 million (£131 million). There have been 20 other acquisitions of talent in the past two years, growing Yahoo’s mobile division from 50 workers to over 500.
The fruits of this new mobile interest are clear, Yahoo Sports, Mail, Weather and Digest are all featured on the iOS and Android apps store, and bring a fresh new face to the previous HTML5 apps, which were clunky and unpopular.
Mayer also reworked the entire advertising division, focusing on new dynamic and targeted advertisements rather than banner ads. These new targeted ads cost more for advertisers, but critics claim Mayer lost a lot of potential advertisers by muting its older desktop business and revamping some of the apps to not feature banner ads.
It is clear that while these critics live in the past and want Yahoo to milk all it can from desktop owners, Mayer is focused on mobile, search and social, making sure to invest in the future instead of relying on the past.
There are reports that without Yahoo! Japan and the 40 per cent stake in Alibaba, Yahoo would be in a $400 million (£262 million) annual operating loss, but Mayer believes it can return to profitability without these two highly profitable ventures, even looking to offset the Alibaba investment in a new investment holdings firm.
In two years, Mayer’s revenue has not been any better than it was in 2013, but she argues that the change in where the revenue is coming from is a major deal, and presents new opportunities for Yahoo to work on in the near future.
Combined with the recent mobile developer conference, it is clear Yahoo wants to be a major player in the advertising market with Google and Facebook. It claims over 500 million users check one of Yahoo’s mobile apps everyday, but it is still a shortfall from Google or Facebook’s numbers.
Mayer is now focused on bringing revenue up, adding new services to the portfolio and expanding its advertising to include even more personalisation.
It will be a tough road, but Mayer is confident that her plan is solid, despite what some investors claim is an over-investment in potential future profits, and not enough focus on some of the older high profit areas.