Marissa Mayer’s musings

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II) Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Marissa Mayer, the news-making Yahoo chief executive officer, marks her one-year anniversary on the job, and the results are decidedly mixed. But I still like her.

(I remember the big dust up when she signed on, just because she happened to be pregnant when she took the job. Hard to believe we were still arguing about that kind of stuff just last year …)

At any rate, Mayer’s been on a tear, picking up 17 companies in 12 months – with the big one coming with the company’s $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr. She’s also ordered a consolidation and update of the company’s mobile apps, scaling back from 75 to around 12-15. Finally, the original search engine redesigned it home page for the first time in four years – and probably at least four year too late.

The results? Well, Yahoo’s market share in the search engine remains stagnant, trailing both Google and Bing, Microsoft’s cutesy wannabe. Despite, that, however, the market’s loved Mayer’s musings, with the company’s stock price vaulting 75 percent in her single year on the job.

But what’s impressive to me has been the turnaround with the work force. She inherited a disconnected, and some might say toxic, work environment and what did she do less than halfway into her first year? She went completely against conventional wisdom and whacked telecommuting – and promptly caught hell for it.

But between that clever way of weeding out the old and acquiring the new, what she managed is nothing short of remarkable, especially in this economic climate. She scaled the company’s work force back nearly 20 percent without any massive layoffs, at least during her tenure.

And back during the company’s first-quarter earnings report (the second-quarter call is just around the corner) Mayer declared that 14 percent of the company’s hires were returning employees. (I guess they call them boomerangs.)

Maybe most importantly, employee morale is up, and so is employee retention. And I’m sure it’s about more than free lunches and the other Google-type perks Mayer brought to the company with her. (Now that I think about it, where were all the news stories and social media buzz when these announcements were made?)

Mayer’s done a remarkable job of turning almost everything around at the struggling tech giant. If she can do for revenue what’s she’s done for the workers themselves – not to mention the shareholders – than this once-dominate Silicon giant might just be able to complete this miracle turnaround.

Personally, I think it all comes too late, but I think Mayer’s got an impressive career ahead of her, no matter how Yahoo turns out. It’s refreshing to see a company this active in a climate that seems to breed atrophy. Mayer's clearly a CEO who values talent.

About the Author
Denis Storey

Denis Storey

Denis Storey is editor for BenefitsPro.com and Benefits Selling magazine. He can be reached at dstorey@benefitspro.com.

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