Spoiler: Schadenfreude
December 17, 2014 7:02 PM   Subscribe

 
My favorite part was the effort to simply try and keep up with Google rather than innovating. Good plan, guys.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:34 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


YES! Was hoping someone would post this. I'll have more detailed thoughts tomorrow, but tonight I must ask: what was with the Yahoo bathroom stalls not going all the way to the wall? This minor detail really intrigues me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:35 PM on December 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


I skimmed most of this profile, and it sounds pretty spot-on with how I would imagine trying to run an old internet giant amid a changing landscape would be: super fucking challenging. I actually think Mayer has done a great job, it's just such a hard job I would never want that I'm impressed she's done as well as she has (even if in the end they're still losing money and not being market leaders).

That Bobbie Nickels story is totally bonkers. What was the point of that?
posted by mathowie at 7:38 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


I've yet to find a comparison involving Steve Jobs that isn't facile and un-illuminating, doubly so in the business press.

The subtext of the article is that the knives are out for Mayer now, because she failed to turn Yahoo around, and a lot of the post facto criticisms (especially the comparison with Jobs) have an obviously gendered aspect to them. She was late for meetings; she was more obsessed with appearance than substance; she spent money on frivolities like a daycare for herself at work. She couldn't cut it at Google and her second (affirmative) chance is still too tough for her, even if she overcompensates by being insensitive to the family concerns of middle managers.
posted by fatbird at 7:44 PM on December 17, 2014 [30 favorites]


"Yahoo tried new things, they haven't worked out yet, perhaps they should change."

This article really didn't need Mayer in it at all.
posted by underflow at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


The point of the Jobs comparison in the article is that, according to the writer, the challenge for mature technology companies like Yahoo is that they are expected to behave as though they were still new, high-growth companies that depending on innovation and creating new markets.

Instead, says the article, mature internet companies like Yahoo don't need a rock star as a CEO, they need a manager. A billion dollars in annual profit isn't so bad.

Mayer does come across as idiosyncratic and a terrible boss, but then again that's the workplace for you.
posted by Nevin at 7:59 PM on December 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


That Bobbie Nickels story is totally bonkers. What was the point of that?

The "Bobbie Had a Nickel" anecdote? I suspect it exemplified the illusion of transparency at work. When explaining a personally meaningful allegory or reading experience, it's hard to overcome the expectation that others will see what you're saying and get from your presentation the same experience that you had.

But instead of suggesting such a common issue, the subtext seems to be yet another insinuation that a woman some people happen to disagree with actually suffers from abnormal psychology and that it's the root cause of their differences.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:02 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


What Happened When the Guy from NeXT Tried to Be Steve Jobs
posted by chimpsonfilm at 8:02 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Same newspaper at the end of October with a more positive view.

The problem with business press articles like this it is mostly PR disguised as news and thoughtful analysis. There are a lot of investment bankers who would really like to earn a huge commission putting Yahoo and AOL together into a mega merger. These guys are negging Yahoo's CEO like a bunch of PUA assholes. Yahoo's stock under Meyer has doubled. Yahoo's current value is below the value of its positions on Yahoo Japan and Alibaba. It was worse when Meyer came in. It takes a long time to climb out of a deep hole and most indicators are that they are getting there. Merging with Aol would be a huge waste of Yahoo's cash.
posted by humanfont at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2014 [41 favorites]


For the life of me I have never figured out what Yahoo is actually for. The last time I used them wasn't very much later than when it was Jerry Yang's bookmark file. Since then I can't think of a single time when it actually had something I wanted or did anything somebody else didn't do better. But then I'm that weird guy whose home page is "about:blank".
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2014 [29 favorites]


Maybe this is a programmer perspective, but my reading of it was not sexist in the least—but rather a profile of Yet Another Delusional Tech Executive. If you're working in the industry, it seems all too common that these "visionaries" have a Grand Vision that is going to lead the company (whether small or large) into the Beautiful Future in which we are either successfully competing with or being acquired by Google.

"It needs to be done by December" and "we need to change the color scheme the day before launch" are both exemplars of the form.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:06 PM on December 17, 2014 [42 favorites]


Spoiler: Schadenfreude

This title makes me not want to read the article.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:07 PM on December 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


re: stalls not reaching walls - GOD this really pissed (ha!) me off at my old office!

the stalls in the men's room were staggered - handicap accessible, regular, urinal - at about 6', 4', and 2' deep each. I'm guessing, maybe it was more or less. The partitions reached to about 1/2 inch from the wall (I've noticed this in other restrooms but it's never been as awful). The wall was a glossy tile.

When standing at the urinal, that 1/2 inch gap + glossy tile + staggered configuration meant YOU CAN SEE THE LAP of the person in the middle stall. no business, because that's all a-dangle down below. Are they on their cell phone? probably! You can see it! but they can't see you unless they are super creepy and kinda twist their heads around and look at the reflection and OH GOD after about 6 months of working there, if I entered the restroom and the motion-sensor lights were already on i just turned around and left.
posted by rebent at 8:16 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


While picking on Yahoo is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel, I checked out yahoo.com for the first time in ages just now and holy shit what a hot mess it is. It appears to be some sort of news aggregator site, and the news that is being curated for little old me is:

- Sharon Osbourne's tooth falls out on air
- School punishes blind boy by replacing cane with pool noodle
- Rumor sends traders barreling into McDonald's
- 'The Interview' Cancellation: Celebs React

Absolutely worthless garbage.
posted by Nevin at 8:17 PM on December 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


The point of the Jobs comparison in the article is that, according to the writer, the challenge for mature technology companies like Yahoo is that they are expected to behave as though they were still new, high-growth companies that depending on innovation and creating new markets.

It's a good point, and the comparison with Jobs adds nothing to it except to imply that Mayer conceived of herself that way, something for which the author offers no evidence.

Maybe this is a programmer perspective, but my reading of it was not sexist in the least

I found a lot of the details raised to be irrelevant, in light of two key points: The Alibaba investment was a lottery ticket that came home; the rest of the Yahoo businesses, despite vigorous attention from the CEO, failed to resurrect Yahoo as a tech giant. If Yahoo was booming now, the daycare and the abrasive meeting requirements and the focus on pedigree would have been seen as virtues of a take-no-prisoners will-to-succeed when they were, in fact, largely immaterial either way. The odour of sexism here isn't tech sexism as much as business sexism, the double bind of female executives who are too weak to lead if they're ballbreakers, and ballbreakers if they're not too weak to lead.
posted by fatbird at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


I don't even think Steve Jobs would hold up well when compared to Steve Jobs.

The real key challenge here is that Yahoo and Google are in two sided markets: they're producing content, and selling ads. Google has pretty much two properties on the content side that justify their market cap: Google Search, and YouTube. On the flip side, they have Adwords and Doubleclick. Half of both sides are home grown, and half are aquisitions, though I don't know the balance of traffic / profits between them.

Mayer's Yahoo has (apparently) been doing great at investing in content. I know they recently outbid Firefox for the default search engine placement, which is the sort of thing I expected her to do. It likely should have happened sooner, but that's constrained by Mozilla's timeline not Yahoo's. What I have not heard anything about is the ads side of the business. Wikipedia suggests their first acquisition on this front was completed less than a month ago.
posted by pwnguin at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think the only reason 'Steve Jobs' was mentioned in this article is because he has become clickbait, particularly when talking about tech. Like 'free fonts!' or 'p3nis 3nlargement'. meh.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2014 [23 favorites]


my reading of it was not sexist in the least—but rather a profile of Yet Another Delusional Tech Executive

I think there's a context for that with Mayer and a context for it with women in general that probably always merits consideration, particularly when it reaches extremes like the 'batshitinsane' tag on this post.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:21 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Did you read the section about Bobby and his nickel?
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:24 PM on December 17, 2014


Did you read the section about Bobby and his nickel?

I think so? I explained it up-thread in terms of normal human psychology? I may not have understood something.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Spoiler: Schadenfreude

This title makes me not want to read the article.


I know what you mean, but I think it also reveals a complex thing about being a leader in the world of competitive business: on top of being a 10eX puppeteer of strategic factors and organizational resources, the CEO must build a near-schizophrenic persona of (a) ruthless captain of industry and (b) charasmatic, likable savant.

It's easy to hate Meyer's hypocrisy on work-from-home or her Jobs aspiring. But look at all the shit she pulled off across venues from the front page of the internet to the backroom of working on Yahoo's source code.

It's entirely unsurprising that even the most effective people can't fit into all of the shapes we want. It's similarly predictable that someone will still take a shot at that.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


She keeps asking for Steve Jobs time and Steve Jobs consideration, I think that is the point of the Steve Jobs comparisons.
posted by Chitownfats at 8:26 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't even think Steve Jobs would hold up well when compared to Steve Jobs.

Well said. I have a basic hostility to "great man" theories of causality, so I might overstate things the other way, but I have trouble believing Jobs was as successful as he was for any reason other than being the survivor who gets to live survivorship bias. Jobsian heroic assholishness isn't uncommon in either big business or tech; lots of other obviously talented people like Tim Cook and Jonathon Ivey were contributing their unique bits; and as I've observed elsewhere, a key component Jobs added was simply avoiding product-development-by-committee (or competing business divisions) that hobbles design and innovation. Jobs didn't have immaculate taste, he just had a relatively distinct taste that looked great in comparison to what Apple's competitors were doing.

As I write all this on my lovely, lovely Retina Macbook Pro.
posted by fatbird at 8:27 PM on December 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Whether woman or man, gay or straight, cis or trans, if you get up on stage at a meeting with your employees who are worried and demoralized, and read them a children's book instead of answering their questions, you are insane.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:30 PM on December 17, 2014 [88 favorites]



While Yahoo was busy enlarging its portfolio, a new generation of start-ups was focusing on perfecting one single product. Soon enough, Yahoo was losing out to eBay in auctions, Google in search and Craigslist in classifieds.

This is Yahoo's problem, not Marissa Mayer. They are KMart, basically and google is Nordstroms. I actually think she was on the right track with the Katie Couric and the Yahoo TV but they are going after mobile users and mobile users don't use Yahoo. Old people on dial up use Yahoo.

And the fact that Yahoo Mail wasn't on mobile is just unforgivable. That lost them everyone with a smartphone.

ETA I cannot favorite this insight enough "a key component Jobs added was simply avoiding product-development-by-committee
posted by fshgrl at 8:31 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Whether woman or man, gay or straight, cis or trans, if you get up on stage at a meeting with your employees who are worried and demoralized, and read them a children's book instead of answering their questions, you are insane.

Aw, but Satya Nadella and Steve Balmer say all sorts of crazy things but no one calls them on it because they're men, right?
posted by Nevin at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


The only thing I use Yahoo for is a Pick 'Em Football pool one of my high school friends (30+ years ago) set up. I have no choice, but it is functional. What they should do with that part of the site is to make it into a competitor with FanDuel and keep their audience in house for real bettingone day fantasy sports. I think my fantasy sports login comes with email and all the other Yahoo services, but what would I do with them?
posted by 724A at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, she was shocked when she realized that Yahoo Mail didn't have a mobile app in 2012, and had them hire more developers to make sure they were actually, uh, in the mobile space in some reasonable way? And had the unmitigated gall to try to make sure it looked right before it shipped?

What hubris! The woman clearly wants to pretend she's just like Steve Jobs. That is certainly why she's failed to turn Yahoo into some all-conquering combination of Google, Apple, and a well-socialized northern European nation-state.
posted by koeselitz at 8:34 PM on December 17, 2014 [25 favorites]


Ballmer became a meme for insanity after the DEVELOPERS talk. Haven't heard anything comparable about Nadella... I'll need to read!
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:35 PM on December 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


She keeps asking for Steve Jobs time and Steve Jobs consideration, I think that is the point of the Steve Jobs comparisons.

This sounds like it's meaningful, but it's not. Any exec in her position would ask for the same things--more time to show results, more money to invest in future earnings.

In the startup in which I participated, I heard over and over again "It's a move fast world". It made me nuts. No one had any idea what it meant, what it actually implied for deadlines or scope or operations or process. And in fact, we made the most tangible progress when we slowed down and implemented scripted user testing and routine executive-level bug triage.
posted by fatbird at 8:38 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I use yahoo as a good garbage email provider so I can sign up for crap and not get spam in my real email.
posted by Renoroc at 8:40 PM on December 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


Aw, but Satya Nadella and Steve Balmer say all sorts of crazy things but no one calls them on it because they're men, right?

Balmer was the internet's biggest joke for years. "Developers, developers, developers", the chair-throwing, etc. He was ridiculed pretty much every time he was mentioned, in any context, anywhere.
posted by rifflesby at 8:41 PM on December 17, 2014 [56 favorites]


Haven't heard anything comparable about Nadella... I'll need to read!

Well, it is relevant to this discussion: "female employees should never, ever ask for a raise. Rely on karma."

So there is no doubt that there is indeed sexism in the tech industry. Regarding Mayer's treatment as being due to sexism compared to her managerial style is a little hard to take.
posted by Nevin at 8:42 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


He was ridiculed pretty much every time he was mentioned, in any context, anywhere.

Yes, I was being sarcastic.
posted by Nevin at 8:43 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, check yahoo.com, I dare you, right now on their busy front page the main articles are:

Prince William Throws Shade at Kate Middleton's "Nightmare" Hair -- Oh No, He Didn't!

Say what?! Prince William visited Centrepoint in London on Dec. 17, when he told an aspiring hairstylist that his wife Kate Middleton's gorgeous hair can be a "nightmare"
Us Weekly

Royal Families
Celebrities

ISIS Attacks American Base In Iraq In First Ever Clash With U.S. Troops

American troops in Iraq had their first actual battle with ISIS troops after the Islamist militants tried to overrun a base, an encounter that left the ISIS troops decimated and in retreat. The attack took place near the Ein al-Asad base, which includes close to 100 U.S. military advisers. The U.S.…
The Inquisitr

Politics
Military

McDonald's To Remove 8 Items From Its Menu. Wean Yourselves Now, America.

New Years' resolutions might've just gotten a little easier now that McDonald's has announced it will start phasing out eight menu ...

Britney Spears Flaunts Bikini Body for 'Women's Health,' Shares Workout Secrets

Las Vegas does a body good if you're Britney Spears! The "Work Bitc*" singer flaunts her rock-hard abs on the January/February 2015 cover of Women's Health magazine, and the 33-year-old pop princess has never looked better posing in a teeny peach bikini and velvet blazer. PHOTOS: Hollywood's…
ETonline
posted by vapidave at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2014


That Bobbie Nickels story is totally bonkers. What was the point of that?

The "Bobbie Had a Nickel" anecdote? I suspect it exemplified the illusion of transparency at work.


OK, but why did Mayer tell the story
posted by Bwithh at 8:45 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't even think Steve Jobs would hold up well when compared to Steve Jobs.

Well that's surely because nobody really understands Steve Jobs. And everyone has a theory, based only on what they can observe from the outside. Here is mine:

Jobs' genius was not products, but demographics. I am sure he did not see it this way, but that's what he did. He found market segments that wanted a product that didn't even exist, that they didn't even know could exist. He didn't create an iPod, he created a demographic, "iPod Owners." The product would not exist unless this predefined demographic existed first. There are other demographics he identified, like "iPhone Users," "iPad Users," etc. Once these demographics are identified, the products and services must exist to service them.

You know, I was commissioned to write a huge article on this topic for big money and I just couldn't do it. Everybody has another useless opinion on Steve Jobs.

But anyway, you can apply this to Yahoo. There is only one thing missing from Yahoo: Yahoo users. She has not identified any demographic groups that need something they have. Then you have to push your products at disinterested end-users.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:49 PM on December 17, 2014 [28 favorites]


Absolutely worthless garbage

One can say what they will about Jobs (and they will), but at least he made things people wanted.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:51 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had just assumed that "Yahoo users" was a demographic: marginally tech literate mothers.
posted by pwnguin at 8:52 PM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


"And had the unmitigated gall to try to make sure it looked right before it shipped?"

To be fair, it looks like amateurish crap. Which is what Mayer apparently thinks is Yahoo's brand. But then, she works for a company that's practically named "Idiot!," so she's not wrong, she just doesn't win for being right.
posted by klangklangston at 8:53 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I still love Flickr.
posted by srboisvert at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


The busyness of Yahoo's home page is neither here nor there. Yahoo generates revenue by delivering advertising for money, whether you personally enjoy clicking on frivolous bullshit is irrelevant.
posted by leopard at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Changing all the colors at the last second before launch is also very much a Steve Jobs story. It's a thing he did. That's probably why the article mentioned it.
posted by ryanrs at 8:56 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still haven't forgiven Yahoo for breaking Flickr. grumble grumble "justified view" and "infinite scroll".
posted by fings at 8:56 PM on December 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


Regarding Mayer's treatment as being due to sexism compared to her managerial style is a little hard to take

I understand her being a target for derision as a manager, but there are ways to say that without drifting into historically sexist terms.

OK, but why did Mayer tell the story

I imagine she saw it as a relevant allegory but failed to expose how it made sense in terms of her inner speech. I do think there's only an outside chance it would have actually been comforting or meaningful if she had succeeded, and it's an error to misjudge your audience and your communication ability that poorly. But in view of the cultural context, folks being really gross about it is a little hard to take.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:01 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


This is timely for me because yahoo is also my crap email repository and I haven't been able to log in All Day and I kind of want one particular piece of my crap email.

Is this Mayer's fault? No. Do I care? No.
posted by bilabial at 9:02 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I understand her being a target for derision as a manager, but there are ways to say that without drifting into historically sexist terms.

Absolutely.
posted by Nevin at 9:08 PM on December 17, 2014


I'm mad at Yahoo lately because they changed the way they do email attachments--now, if you click on an attached .pdf, it opens on the screen. But if you then click 'print,' it prints the inbox screen that's in the background.

I am specifically not a fan of libraries with signs everywhere, but I have put up signs warning patrons about this nonsense.
posted by box at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Everything Yahoo does, Google does better.

Yahoo mail got hacked and so to battle it they require a mobile phone number to create a new account. This turned off a lot of people who didn't want to give up their mobile number and have Yahoo sell it to spammers.

Getting rid of Geocities was a bad deal. They should have turned it into a Cloud server platform. Sell VPS services to the Dotcoms out there.

Yahoo had IE and Firefox web browsers that went nowhere and the deal with SBC/AT&T for their own web browser was a bust.

Instead of innovating and creating new products and services they invested in Alibaba and got billions in the IPO.

Yahoo needed to copy the Google or Amazon business model, but instead they tried to copy Apple's business model and failed because Apple is a hardware company that makes their software free for their Apple branded hardware and prohibits via the EULA for installing on Non-Apple hardware.

Mayer didn't fail because she is a female, she failed because she doesn't understand the markets that Yahoo needs to target, and tried to copy Steve Jobs and Apple when Yahoo doesn't even sell hardware and is a software and services company.
posted by Orion Blastar at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


The subtext of the article is that the knives are out for Mayer now

That wasn't subtext.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:16 PM on December 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Interesting article. They really do have pretty decent mobile apps now, though the purple theme is noticeable and totally unnecessary. It's just that decent mobile apps aren't enough. Really small for-real startups can make one. As the article says to be Steve Jobs you have to change the game. Nothing she did that is recorded in the article even hinted at some idea she had that would be a game changer. There isn't something like that that was even tried and failed. Maybe she has something in the back of her mind for the next few years of her five year plan, but with everything else falling apart it hardly matters.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:16 PM on December 17, 2014


Fundamentally there is something pathetic and therefore hilarious about the drive and ambition of the Type-A personalities that occupy the C-Suite. As someone said above, if they are successful then they are lauded. But if unsuccessful, the Leader's magic dissipates and boldness becomes ineffectual, ridiculous pomposity. Instead of being lauded, then they are insulted, and in Mayer's case some of the insults are going to be sexist.
posted by Nevin at 9:19 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


- Sharon Osbourne's tooth falls out on air
- School punishes blind boy by replacing cane with pool noodle
- Rumor sends traders barreling into McDonald's
- 'The Interview' Cancellation: Celebs React

Absolutely worthless garbage.


It does better if you are logged in. It gives me mostly football and NASCAR news because my account is linked to those fantasy sports there. What you got is either the best guess for random internet people who end up on Yahoo (Not surprising, considering the audience consistently described as "middle brow" in the Times, or...well what do YOU do logged in there? :P )
posted by Drinky Die at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Who has shadenfreude exactly, and why?

There is obvious gender hate in this article. No one gives a shit when a male CEO buys a Ferrari, but this female one can't have a playroom in her office.

She talked to Vanity Fair, and that was wrong, but look at the current garbage content, and that's wrong too?
posted by Brocktoon at 9:27 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


But anyway, you can apply this to Yahoo. There is only one thing missing from Yahoo: Yahoo users. She has not identified any demographic groups that need something they have. Then you have to push your products at disinterested end-users.

It's in the article I think. It's why the merger has to happen and it has to happen with AOL specifically. The demographic is my 85 year old Dad who will die before he learns to use any e-mail client besides the AOL desktop client. And also the people who want to know about the pool noodle and the blind boy. Consolidate everything down and take the revenue those people give you as efficiently as you can, use the excess to see if R&D can come up with something more after you right the ship.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:32 PM on December 17, 2014


Re: the Steve Jobs comparison, it's not written well in the kinda sloppy article, but according to the reporting, Mayer herself frequently made the comparison, and it's fundamentally a reference to Jobs successfully turning around poorly performing Apple (especially in terms of innovation and making innovative products a business success) after he returned to it in 1997 (having got pushed out in 1985) but of course it's being interpreted in other ways too.
posted by Bwithh at 9:38 PM on December 17, 2014


Yeah, this basically read to me as a hit piece on Meyer. She was the golden girl for many years but now the shine is off. She's definitely doing what is basically an impossible job so good for her on some level. She's already a billionaire so on some level it doesn't really matter whether she succeeds or fails, she goes home to whichever house she chooses at the end of the day all the same.

At the same time, she's trying to fix something that's so broken and useless you have to ask what the point is. The Yahoo home page is terrible. Most of their users are legacy users - has any teenager used Yahoo in a decade? They have a few random hits like Flickr and their fantasy football and ISP portal deals, but otherwise, yeesh.

I checked Yahoo's balance sheet after reading this piece - currently their assets are $57B (about $52B if you leave out goodwill) and their market cap is $46B... awkward. It's tough when the market thinks your company is worth less than the actual assets you have on hand.
posted by GuyZero at 9:41 PM on December 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


But I thought Yahoo's core business was profitable? If that's the case, how does a profitable business have a negative valuation?

Because the market expects it to get worse. It's like saying hey, I have a couple cords of wood for sale. Except they're currently on fire. No one wants to buy wood that's already halfway burned.
posted by GuyZero at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


"guys i didn't read teh article but my opinion about it is running a website is hard!" -the yahoo.com of comments.
posted by basicchannel at 9:45 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think when a previously flourishing company loses its momentum and there's some stigma attached the downfall, your very name becomes a liability and actively works against a similar type of momentum from picking up again. People like new and flashy companies that bring things of value, but also well established entities that have been able to keep up with trends and consumer needs in a compelling way. My theory is that once you've been out of the gate, if you haven't kept up the momentum, there is very little chance of going back to recapture that as a has-been. You pretty much need to start over and get lucky again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:49 PM on December 17, 2014


yahoo is the sears/kmart of the internet.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:51 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Getting rid of Geocities was a bad deal. They should have turned it into a Cloud server platform. Sell VPS services to the Dotcoms out there.

Running a large-scale web services operation takes more than the idea - geocities ran on what probably amounts to a single rack of today's hardware. Yahoo is way to far behind to be in that business. That's a supply chain and datacenter business which Yahoo is way behind on.

What Yahoo should have done is kept investing in search - oddly, something Meyer actually knows about. Now, she's not one of the machine learning gurus, but there's enough of those people out there to hire one. Search is like an olympic marathon - it's a marathon run at sprinting speed. You can't stop or even slow down at any point. Bing has done a decent job but they simply can;'t close the gap on Google unless Google gives up for some reason. Yahoo shouldn't have given up.

I think them buying traffic via the Firefox deal is a good move (although expensive) but they have to get back to investing heavily in search. Unlike DC investments there's no real estate or supply chain, there's just a lot of hard software work. If they're going to pay for search traffic I think they should invest in actually making it a good user experience.

Also, sheesh, they need to improve their ad platform. You know, that thing that actually makes money.
posted by GuyZero at 9:52 PM on December 17, 2014


One can say what they will about Jobs (and they will), but at least he made things people wanted.

Quite the opposite, he made people want things. That's the legendary Reality Distortion Field.

The [Yahoo] demographic is my 85 year old Dad who will die before he learns to use any e-mail client besides the AOL desktop client.

LOL that's my Dad, he is still using AOL for email. But that demographic is literally dying out. Obviously you want a hot product that attracts many new users and new revenue, but I think companies like Yahoo are hooked on the old hypergrowth economy of Silicon Valley. They think they can acquire compelling new technologies and products that will attract users immediately. The article is dismissive of midrange tech companies like Ask.com that are profitable but have no growth, describing that as the worst case scenario for Yahoo. But this is the hypergrowth mentality. Lots of companies fail because they can't be profitable without growth. If sales go flat, they are instantly in the red. They're looking for the risky big profits, which is inadvisable if you haven't got your fundamentals working efficiently enough to be profitable.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:54 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ask.com is the quintessential cash cow. They have a semi-good domain name, they license search from google, they show google ads and then take their cut for bringing the traffic. It's not that they reject hypergrowth. They buy into that shit as much as anyone. It's just that they know they can't compete so they squeeze the remaining money out of the few assets they have - a domain name and a small cadre of strangely loyal users - and go fishing.
posted by GuyZero at 10:00 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Doesn't boring money earned from a boring, stodgy website spend just the same as startup money?

Yahoo doesn't pay a dividend. So there's no income for investors there. So the only value of the stock is in terms of future earnings growth. If you expect earnings to fall then the stock is worthless - essentially investors believe that there's no hope for it. They don't get any of the income directly anyway. I don't remember finance class very well, but basically for companies with no earnings growth you expect a certain fixed p/e ratio and yahoo is probably above that, making the stock worthless once you remove the assets unrelated to the business (alibaba stock). Real finance people please explain it to me too.

It could also be that the market isn't efficient and it's undervalued. That happens.
posted by GuyZero at 10:05 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think when a previously flourishing company loses its momentum and there's some stigma attached the downfall, your very name becomes a liability and actively works against a similar type of momentum from picking up again.

This message has been sponsored by TANG™, another fine product of Kraft Foods™.

The problem with Yahoo is brand management, not tech management.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:08 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Commercial worked on me, now I wish I had some Tang. To mix with the vodka I am drinking.


*sigh* I'll settle for the orange soda I have out in the garage instead.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:17 PM on December 17, 2014


No one gives a shit when a male CEO buys a Ferrari

They would if he paid for it with company money.
posted by El Mariachi at 10:22 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Nicholas Carlson has been busy; see also his Jack Dorsey is not Steve Jobs, another thoroughly researched and slightly nasty piece on a similar theme.
posted by Nelson at 10:27 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I worked with Meyer a bit at Google and she impressed me with her energy and aggression, but not with her competence or insight. Apparently little has changed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:34 PM on December 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


This kinda strikes me as a bunch of legitimate complaints heavily mixed in with crappy framing that really sells it short. like the air of "lol look stupid woman things! isn't she such a dumb lady person who does dumb lady things!" that radiates from various parts of it sort of minuses a lot of the punch of it. It's hard to separate too, it's really pretty well emulsified in there and i just don't really know what to say.

This isn't the first Meyer article i've read that had that vibe either. I really wish someone could sort of set out to not only write something about her, but also make an fpp that didn't drip with that. Because seriously, #batshitinsane? I mean i get super frustrated at the recent trend of "this is great except this one thing..." about like goddamn everything online in progressive circles or whatever, but this is pretty well a vanilla and poop milkshake.

Any time her weird, bad, or hypocritical decisions get brought up it just segways in to weird gendered stuff. It's like, maybe just attack the crappiness on its merits?
posted by emptythought at 10:42 PM on December 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


Normally I try to substantiate an argument with facts, but when the Times outsources a hit piece to a Business Insider hack to slag a CEO who has outperformed all the major indices during her tenure, I'm just gonna assume maybe there are some other prejudices at play.
posted by 99_ at 10:46 PM on December 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


"They would if he paid for it with company money."

LOL no they wouldn't! If he built a private gym, they wouldn't care about that either.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:00 PM on December 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


But then I'm that weird guy whose home page is "about:blank".
posted by George_Spiggott


I was about to chime in, "That's not so weird, I've used about:blank as my homepage for years," but then I realised that I primarily use my mobile device for browsing these days, and I usually open the browser by clicking on the icon that automatically brings up ... Metafilter.
posted by jb at 11:02 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


If he built a private gym, they wouldn't care about that either.

They would if he had just stripped gym memberships as a perk for other employees.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:07 PM on December 17, 2014 [27 favorites]


They will pluck my Yahoo email account from my cold dead hands.
posted by Fister Roboto at 11:07 PM on December 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


This article lost me when it used Tim Armstrong as an example of a good CEO. Tim Armstrong is both incompetent and a shrieking asshole.
posted by double block and bleed at 11:13 PM on December 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: "I worked with Meyer a bit at Google and she impressed me with her energy and aggression, but not with her competence or insight. Apparently little has changed."

You worked with her, but you cannot spell her name correctly? How was her attention to detail?

No offense, but I couldn't let that pass without commenting.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 11:20 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


One can say what they will about Jobs (and they will), but at least he made things people wanted.
Quite the opposite, he made people want things. That's the legendary Reality Distortion Field.


This is a BS assertion every time someone makes it. Black silhouettes of dancing people holding iPods didn't make people buy iPods. iPods made people buy iPods.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


This article lost me when it used Tim Armstrong as an example of a good CEO. Tim Armstrong is both incompetent and a shrieking asshole.

Ah but as the article states his stock price is up. That's what matters here. People can snipe all they want but this is a classic take down of CEO of a flailing company. If you've never read one it may seem sexist but I think the exact same piece was written a few times about Armstrong when AOL was more in the toilet than it is now.
posted by chaz at 11:25 PM on December 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Black silhouettes of dancing people holding iPods didn't make people buy iPods. iPods made people buy iPods.

You are not getting it: this is brand management. iPods didn't make people buy iPods. Features don't make people buy products. If that were true, we'd all be using Nomad mp3 players.

Jobs knew that people don't want to buy his product, they want to buy into the identity of people who buy that particular product. That identity is closely aligned with Apple media images. Apple designs their own image as carefully as it designs its products. And this extends to end users: Apple carefully designed the identity of an iPod user that people wanted to identify with.

Let me give you a specific example. I remember the keynote where Steve introduced the Motorola iTunes Phone. It was a candy-bar phone with clunky buttons and a little 1 inch LCD, it could store like maybe 20 mp3s. You could clearly tell that he was disgusted with the clunky product, and distanced Apple from it, saying it was Motorola's product. The message he delivered was in the subtext: don't buy this piece of crap. You will be embarrassed to own it. You can't identify with other people who were deluded enough to buy this crap. But the phone is an announcement to the world, Appleis working on a phone thing and this new "advanced" iTunes phone is beneath us. Just leave it to Apple and they'll put out a phone + mp3 player product you can be proud to own.

Well this would be a lot easier to explain if I could find my source material for the article I was writing. I can't believe how much research I did on postmodern postsructuralist ideas about brands. There was a particularly interesting source entitled "Demographics as History." Well I won't go on or else I will have written the entire story. I still might write it up and sell this but it needs citations and more stucture. Powerful brand marketing is very difficult to manage, or even explain.

Anwyay, Jobs was fond of quoting Henry Ford, who said something like "If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse." Ford was also brilliant at establishing demographics for their product's users.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:11 AM on December 18, 2014 [30 favorites]


Well, it is relevant to this discussion: "female employees should never, ever ask for a raise. Rely on karma."

Which wasn't at all what he said, but keep propagating that lie if it makes you feel better.
posted by effbot at 12:11 AM on December 18, 2014


The stock market and investors do more damage than good. A business which spends any time, effort, money or other resource in an effort to keep the stock market happy is a company that's distracted and reactionary.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]




This article buys into the mythologising of CEOs. I'm not saying a good or bad CEO can't make a difference, but their effect is over pronounced. A good CEO can't fix a bad business, and this was Yahoo we were talking about. Yahoo wasn't going to compete with Google: Microsoft, with a lot more money and infrastructure, has failed to realistically compete with Google. Yahoo was a joke even when it was doing well. It's fricking Yahoo.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


"It needs to be done by December" and "we need to change the color scheme the day before launch"

Sadly not just the tech industry.
posted by freakazoid at 1:20 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Features don't make people buy products. If that were true, we'd all be using Nomad mp3 players.

This is the worst example though - compactness and an elegant interface are features. What keeps a brand like iPod on top for years as competitors catch up is indeed another, multifaceted issue, but come on.
posted by atoxyl at 2:01 AM on December 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm not fit to judge Mayer, but I will say that Yahoo broke Flickr. It's still my favorite of its niche, but it's nowhere near as good as it was before the redesign.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:01 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yahoo needs more dumbshit middlebrow media, not less. They need to embrace their fate as the Kmart of the internet.
posted by benzenedream at 2:13 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yes, my local K-Mart is doing fine (because Wal-Mart has not found a close enough location yet.)

But they don't go trying to turn themselves into something else, they just do the best Wal-Mart impression they can.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:19 AM on December 18, 2014


> It's why the merger has to happen and it has to happen with AOL specifically.

So you're saying that the one thing that can best improve the long-term prospects for a company that has difficulty attracting a new, savvy userbase is to merge it with the one competitor that is a literal laughingstock to the young and technically literate.
posted by ardgedee at 2:38 AM on December 18, 2014


Fox News makes bank on that demographic.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Fox News, unlike Yahoo and AOL, is a division of a much larger diversified multinational corporation. The parent company can afford to let it target narrow demographics: its other holdings will be busy wih other segments.
posted by ardgedee at 4:43 AM on December 18, 2014


I think Flickr is absolutely emblematic of one of Yahoo's basic problems: even if it does have a good idea, it can't do it. Flickr was perfectly poised to carve chunks out of - actually, to dominate - personal image archival and sharing (still not a solved problem), geo-based community generation, narrative-based jnage lifeblogging (your personal movie in selfies - it's gonna happen somewhere), even generic personal digital data management. All areas where on paper Yahoo has the infrastructure and other resources to build, iterate and market at will.

Instead: nada. While I don't know the post-Yahoo acquisition Flickr specifics and my last good view inside Yahoo was a while ago, it would surprise me if there hadn't been a reverse cuckoo - kill the newcomer that momma just put in our nest. Which happens so very, very often in large, acquisition-heavy companies where the top tier of management have less control over their reports than their reports do over the fiefdoms. (I think MS/Skype may be an intriguing counter-example, btw, and MS' latest reorg may be specifically targetting this problem. Which is the only way to clear out the stables and get back in a position where you can fix things)

.
posted by Devonian at 4:59 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


1. Use the ymail domain to try out all your Google-Inbox-UI fantasies, including heavy social-media integration. Market it in a way that subliminally disses Google+.
2. New rule for yahoo.com email addresses: whatever interface you had when you signed up, the default option is to keep it forever. Hire a greeting card writer to write the slogan.
3. Bring back upvotes on search results, add comments, integrate with Answers. (This will be a total mess that Mefi will make fun of, but lots of people would love that shit).
4. Hire somebody from Instagram to create an alternate Flickr app. Market it as a place for your own photos, not memes.
5. Start running '90s Yahoo! commercials, unedited, on modern tv networks and streaming sites. But only on, like, niche shows at 2 in the morning.
posted by box at 5:08 AM on December 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Even though the actress Gwyneth Paltrow had created a best-selling cookbook and popular lifestyle blog, Mayer, who habitually asked deputies where they attended college, balked at hiring her as a contributing editor for Yahoo Food. According to one executive, Mayer disapproved of the fact that Paltrow did not graduate college.

I didn't think it was possible to be snottier than Gwyneth Paltrow, but there it is, right there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:24 AM on December 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


Fox News, unlike Yahoo and AOL, is a division of a much larger diversified multinational corporation.

Sharon Osbourne's tooth falls out on air

A story not doomed to wander short of suitors in the Murdochverse.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:53 AM on December 18, 2014


a CEO who has outperformed all the major indices during her tenure

Isn't that solely because of the Alibaba investment that was made before Mayer was CEO?
posted by smackfu at 6:09 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This may have been already said upthread, but I wonder if this was an article about a man if the author would have felt the need to tell us what he was wearing when he spoke.
posted by 4ster at 6:43 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


> "What happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs"

As far as I can tell, what happened is that Yahoo's stock value went from 15.6 the day she took office to 50.12 today.
posted by kyrademon at 6:45 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, what happened is that Yahoo's stock value went from 15.6 the day she took office to 50.12 today.

Did you RTFA? It asserts that this is due to the Ali Baba ownership. The rest of the business is negatively valued.
posted by pashdown at 6:50 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


According to the article, that was due to the Alibaba ownership until they went public three months ago.

Since then, Yahoo stock price has risen from 40.93 to 50.12.
posted by kyrademon at 6:59 AM on December 18, 2014


I had just assumed that "Yahoo users" was a demographic: marginally tech literate mothers.

Yeah, like mine. Every time I need to log into that shitty email system to do something for my mom, a tiny piece of my soul dies.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 7:01 AM on December 18, 2014


According to Jackson’s valuation, Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba was worth roughly $37 billion. But if you subtracted that position, the entirety of Yahoo’s core business, all its web products and content sites, actually had a market valuation of negative $4 billion.
posted by pashdown at 7:02 AM on December 18, 2014


Since then, Yahoo stock price has risen from 40.93 to 50.12.

That increase is still mainly from Ali Baba. YHOO vs. BABA
posted by smackfu at 7:08 AM on December 18, 2014


The article makes much of the fact that after Alibaba's IPO, Yahoo's stock price dropped:

"On Sept. 19, Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $93.89 per share. But as Alibaba’s stock soared, Yahoo’s dropped, an indication that the market seemed to concur with Jackson’s analysis ..."

The drop was like 1-2 points. Since then, they've risen 10 points.

I will admit I am not a financial expert, but if the article treats a small post-IPO drop as significant, why is the large post-IPO rise not significant?
posted by kyrademon at 7:12 AM on December 18, 2014


No one was calling Steve Jobs a genius when he first came back to Apple. He was forced out of Apple. NeXT was a nice concept but ultimately failed as a company. It took years until the iPod came out to really begin turning the company around.

Had he failed, the stories of his management style would have taken on a new light. Imagine being one of the engineers he being told the product you've spent years on is shit in front of everyone. But you didn't hear about that much, pundits were too busy declaring Apple dead to be reporting about what it was like to work for Jobs. His sainthood, if that's the right term, resulted only because Apple didn't die.

Mayer needs a equivalent to the iPod, not a piece of hardware of course, but something that people want or need that up until they see it didn't know they wanted or needed. I don't know what that is for Yahoo, but whatever they've been doing so far certainly isn't it (the original Yahoo might have qualified, but that was a specific time and circumstance that won't happen again). She deserves more time, but she needs to start showing some sort of coherent strategy (other than the use of purple) and she needs to show it soon.
posted by tommasz at 7:21 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yahoo! is circling the tank as a tech company. They aren't in as bad of a position as Best Buy and Radio Shack are in regards to retailing but they are basically rapidly entering zombie mode if they aren't already there.

I only ever use my yahoo email to sign up for other services (basically a zero cost spam filter so my gmail and work accounts are hopelessly contaminated with shit). I used to use yahoo groups back in the day but they are completely zombified these days.

Yahoo finance I guess isn't completely fucking horrible but just about everything on Yahoo! is done better by someone else. Being top 5 in a ton of areas when Google and Facebook and Amazon and Apple are 1-2 in all the areas they compete in is basically the death knell.

Google owns search, Facebook owns social networking, Amazon owns internet retailing, Apple is 1-2 in a bunch of hardware and software categories. They also all make major bank in advertising and have insane engineering competency that is allowing them to transform into tech services companies. Yahoo! doesn't seem to have any of those advantages.
posted by vuron at 7:29 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was just about to say what tommasz said. Apple was hardly an amazing success story before the ipod came out. There's this tendency to pick winners and assume everyone involved was a genius, rather than lucky. Obviously talent is involved, when a company succeeds, but the things the article picks out are often ridiculous: The CEO didn't like Gwyneth Paltrow, therefore Yahoo failed. It's absurd.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:31 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


> You worked with her, but you cannot spell her name correctly? How was her attention to detail?

Hah, got me! I'd just gotten off a plane - my attention to detail is usually pretty obsessive but I was dropping with weariness.

The details are that I was working on the early incarnation of search within a specific domain (which I'll omit) and she was reviewing it. "Attention to detail" was most of what was going on. It felt to the team as if she hated the product, and indeed, we limped along for a year or two and then were cancelled, and then they did the whole thing again from scratch a couple of years after that.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:37 AM on December 18, 2014


Look, here's what I'm basically asking. From the article:

"Weeks before Mayer was hired in July 2012, Yahoo sold half its 40 percent stake back to Alibaba for $7.1 billion. As a part of that deal, Alibaba agreed to hold an initial public offering sometime before the end of 2014 ... The arrangement ensured that Yahoo’s stock, for the next two years, would be tied to the performance of Alibaba rather than that of its own core business. This was a tremendous benefit to an incoming C.E.O., essentially offering a two-year air cover."

OK, so the stock increase for two years after she was hired was All About Alibaba. Fine. So once the two-year deadline is up, if she hasn't turned the company around, the stock price should collapse, right?

And sure enough, from the article:

"On Sept. 19, Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange, closing at $93.89 per share. But as Alibaba’s stock soared, Yahoo’s dropped ..."

All right, seems like basic cause and effect.

Until you look at the numbers, and realize that Yahoo's drop in stock price was minute, and that it's had a significant rise since then.

So ... why would that be? If their stock price is still tied to Alibaba despite the IPO, then what was all that about how she gets cover for two years blah blah until the IPO? If their stock price isn't tied to Alibaba, then why is it still going up if their stock price increase was All About Alibaba and nothing else?
posted by kyrademon at 7:43 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obviously talent is involved, when a company succeeds, but the things the article picks out are often ridiculous: The CEO didn't like Gwyneth Paltrow, therefore Yahoo failed. It's absurd.

The point of the Paltrow part was to illustrate that Mayer was concerned about stuff that didn't matter (she didn't attend college!) while ignoring the stuff that did matter (Paltrow had built a solid lifestyle brand, and would be an excellent choice to work with in that field.)

Of course, I have had little respect for Mayer after the nursery fiasco, because of how she used her status as a new mother to justify destroying Yahoo's work/life balance policies, only to find that she made sure to have the company provide her (and her alone) with the tools to balance her work and life.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


The point of the Paltrow part was to illustrate that Mayer was concerned about stuff that didn't matter (she didn't attend college!) while ignoring the stuff that did matter (Paltrow had built a solid lifestyle brand, and would be an excellent choice to work with in that field.)

But I think its massively misleading. It paints a picture that anyone could paint, because all CEOs (all people) are goofy and weird in some ways. Imagine anyone picking apart every decision you made? Of course you could paint any picture you want. The nursery stuff was straight up bullshit though, no disagreement there!
posted by Cannon Fodder at 7:51 AM on December 18, 2014


Yahoo needed to copy the Google or Amazon business model, but instead they tried to copy Apple's business model and failed because Apple is a hardware company that makes their software free for their Apple branded hardware and prohibits via the EULA for installing on Non-Apple hardware.

What does this even mean? How did they try to copy Apple's business model?
posted by leopard at 7:56 AM on December 18, 2014


But I think its massively misleading. It paints a picture that anyone could paint, because all CEOs (all people) are goofy and weird in some ways.

Except that this wasn't about her being "goofy", it's about her being so hung up on her cultural status markers (in SV, where you went to school is a Big Thing) that it was negatively affecting her business judgement. Which, again, the whole tearing down of Yahoo's work/life policies was another great example of.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:58 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


How did they try to copy Apple's business model?

Nobody remembers the yPod.
posted by box at 7:59 AM on December 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Yahoo makes money by selling online advertising. Why are people expecting it to create an iPod or an iPad or an iPhone? Literally every single business wishes it could create a heavily branded product with massive profit margins, sure, but that's not really Yahoo-specific advice, is it?
posted by leopard at 8:01 AM on December 18, 2014


If their stock price is still tied to Alibaba despite the IPO, then what was all that about how she gets cover for two years blah blah until the IPO?

I think the idea is that since Alibaba wasn't a public company, it's valuation could not be precisely determined. Like when the article says that Yahoo had a market valuation of negative $4 billion, that's based on some analyst's opinion of what Alibaba was worth. But after the IPO, it's very easy to calculate exactly how much the market value the ex-Alibaba part of Yahoo, and see how Mayer is doing.

The stock doesn't collapse because Yahoo still owns a lot of Alibaba stock after the IPO, and that makes up much of the market cap of the company.
posted by smackfu at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


- School punishes blind boy by replacing cane with pool noodle

There's no way the picture in the article can do justice to the mental picture.
posted by dr_dank at 8:07 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fox News, unlike Yahoo and AOL, is a division of a much larger diversified multinational corporation. The parent company can afford to let it target narrow demographics: its other holdings will be busy wih other segments.

It's also worth pointing out that FNC is an anchor on NewsCorp as a whole value wise. Murdoch tolerates this for a few different reasons, but I would bet that a change in leadership at the top would cause some bigger changes to roll downhill there.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:12 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


>Features don't make people buy products. If that were true, we'd all be using Nomad mp3 players.

This is the worst example though - compactness and an elegant interface are features. What keeps a brand like iPod on top for years as competitors catch up is indeed another, multifaceted issue, but come on.


Okay.. I was tired and up past my bedtime, maybe it's a bad example. So let's talk about the Zune. Maybe that's not such a good example, but I just woke up and I'm still having my morning coffee.

I remember when the Zune came out, one columnist (The Macalope I think) said that this xmas, kids will ask their parents for an iPod, but they will buy the Zune because some salesman at Best Buy told them it was better than the iPod and it's cheaper. This is a guarantee of disappointment for kids who wanted iPods, they had already identified themselves as iPod people. So then he envisioned kids on the playground at school using their Zune and getting beat up while the other iPod-owning kids taunted "zuney zuney zuney.."

Seriously, people really identify with the demographic of their product. How else can you explain Zune Tattoo Guy? Apple's product here is not the iPod, they are selling you a lifestyle that includes an iPod.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:25 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


What does this even mean? How did they try to copy Apple's business model?

By trying to take a moribund company operating on the margins and find "the next big thing" that would ignite revenues. Which is why (some say) Yahoo has been buying companies like Tumblr.

It seems to me though that other established tech companies like Facebook are not purchasing "startups" or smaller companies to spark a massive uptake in revenues. The acquisition by Facebook of Instagram for example was an effort to maintain audience-share, as fewer and fewer younger folks are using Facebook, a very boring and conservative platform.

Tumblr could have been the same thing, but there is absolutely no connection with Yahoo, and it doesn't even seem to have any revenue stream.
posted by Nevin at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2014


"No one was calling Steve Jobs a genius when he first came back to Apple...It took years until the iPod came out to really begin turning the company around."

Ironically, the iPod didn't turn the company around until Apple released iTunes for Windows...which was something Jobs adamantly refused to do until he just gave up trying to fight it.

Without the iPod explosion, things would have been a lot different. Perhaps no iPhone. Perhaps Apple would have been a division of Dell by now.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:29 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


The stock doesn't collapse because Yahoo still owns a lot of Alibaba stock after the IPO, and that makes up much of the market cap of the company.

If I have all my numbers right, YHOO still owns about 384 million shares, currently worth $42 billion or nearly 90% of the current YHOO market cap.
posted by malocchio at 8:30 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a BS assertion every time someone makes it. Black silhouettes of dancing people holding iPods didn't make people buy iPods. iPods made people buy iPods.

Itunes made people buy Ipods. The genius of Jobs wasn't in the mediocre MP3 player - it was in providing content that only that player could use that was seamless in its presentation.

Before itunes, getting music onto a device was a nightmare of conflicting formats and DRM and shitty software. Jobs solved that problem. The ipod was the least interesting part of that - hardware is easy.

Getting those idiots in the Music Industry to do anything sensible is hard.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Mayer also favored a system of quarterly performance reviews, or Q.P.R.s, that required every Yahoo employee, on every team, be ranked from 1 to 5. The system was meant to encourage hard work and weed out underperformers, but it soon produced the exact opposite. Because only so many 4s and 5s could be allotted, talented people no longer wanted to work together; strategic goals were sacrificed, as employees did not want to change projects and leave themselves open to a lower score.

Oh dear god, what is it about rank 'n yank that makes CEOs go stupid?
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:37 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not saying a good or bad CEO can't make a difference, but their effect is over pronounced.

Yes, it's a CEO-centric article. And goodness, did it get boring, at least to me. Had to skim about halfway through. (Wasn't as terrible at the one Instapaper featured/linked to about the young CEO of Burger King, though, where I was thinking, Why the hell am I reading this? I hate myself for getting this far. Etc.) Too long!

The problem is, Why do people like this get paid so much, compared to everyone else in America/the world? And then the sales head guy who had a $68 million contract, who talked in riddles and was snidely called the Most Interesting Man in the World by former employeed? (Aside: I wanted to read more about that guy. Would've made for a better article. Just, We started we this boring crap about Yahoo! and then comes this weirdo, so we're going to go off on a tangent about him, then come back to Mayer.) Why does anyone deserve a $68 million contract for any one job at a single company? They should be able to handle take-down profiles all the time if they expect that sort of money. They should practically be a cost of doing business, a requirement (but not boring).
posted by raysmj at 8:59 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


""She keeps asking for Steve Jobs time and Steve Jobs consideration, I think that is the point of the Steve Jobs comparisons."

This sounds like it's meaningful, but it's not."

Respectfully, she is not asking for more time like, "OMG, I need more time!", she is asking like, "OMG, I need more time, you know, like Steve Jobs got!".

From the article, "... she reminded those in attendance that Steve Jobs didn’t come up with the iPod until five years into his second tenure at Apple." etc. In other words, she didn't open the CEO door, she opened the Special Magical Snowflake CEO door. My personal opinion is that she doesn't sound so much CEO-exasperated as she does megalomanaical, which, of course, in no way makes her before-the-fact a bad CEO, just one more open and inviting to picadorish financial press jabs than she probably should be. My advice to her, and to all Sagittarians: lay off butter cream-filled chocolates and invoking the name Steve Jobs.
posted by Chitownfats at 9:00 AM on December 18, 2014


what is it about rank 'n yank that makes CEOs go stupid?

I think CEOs are obsessed with the idea of dead weight employees. "If we just trim the dead weight, that will solve everything!" The reality is that one round of trimming might cut costs and help the company, but you only get one round of that. After that, you need actual strategic vision. Plus a lot of the real dead-weight is usually in middle management, who never get ranked.
posted by smackfu at 9:01 AM on December 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Rank and yank always reminds me of how Chainsaw Al wound up being exposed as a fraud. The concept of rank and yank has an intuitive appeal to a certain kind of narrow-minded Ayn Rand follower, but they never stop to think about whether the technique even actually works.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on December 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


According to this list, beautiful Yahoo.com is the 4th-most popular website in the world.

I'm not sure why people think they have good intuition about the economics of online advertising companies. Obviously Yahoo is not doing that great but the "coolness" of the company brand has only a limited connection to that.
posted by leopard at 9:34 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


"I think them buying traffic via the Firefox deal is a good move (although expensive) but they have to get back to investing heavily in search. Unlike DC investments there's no real estate or supply chain, there's just a lot of hard software work. If they're going to pay for search traffic I think they should invest in actually making it a good user experience."

Oh God, I was wondering why my Firefox suddenly went default to Yahoo. I didn't mind much at first — the "Don't be not evil" direction of Google's making me look for alternatives — but the search results in pretty much every category were worse than Google. I'm working on updating a website that has hundreds of outdated pages, so being able to search to see which pages have, say, the wrong address on them but might show up to outsiders is important. Both Yahoo and DuckDuckGo turn up nearly all of the already corrected pages too, making them useless — I'm guessing Google's spiders are faster.
posted by klangklangston at 9:35 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


According to this list, beautiful Yahoo.com is the 4th-most popular website in the world.

yeah, sure

(flips down clip-on shades)

among dorks

(high-fives self, speeds away in a souped-up Prelude)
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


humanfont: Yahoo's stock under Meyer has doubled.
And THAT nails the coffin shut on the myth that Mayers has failed. (Actually, she has more than tripled it since she took the helm in July 2012.)

Screw whether or not she's Jobs'ish enough. That's amazing performance.
pwnguin: I don't even think Steve Jobs would hold up well when compared to Steve Jobs.
sexyrobot: I think the only reason 'Steve Jobs' was mentioned in this article is because he has become clickbait, particularly when talking about tech. Like 'free fonts!' or 'p3nis 3nlargement'. meh.
Both true.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:36 AM on December 18, 2014


IAmBroom, as mentioned above Yahoo's stock price is heavily driven by its stake in Alibaba.
posted by leopard at 9:38 AM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think CEOs are obsessed with the idea of dead weight employees. "If we just trim the dead weight, that will solve everything!" The reality is that one round of trimming might cut costs and help the company, but you only get one round of that. After that, you need actual strategic vision. Plus a lot of the real dead-weight is usually in middle management, who never get ranked.

On one hand, it is true that a bad apple can have a serious negative effect on a department. On the other hand, employee autonomy to do good work and high morale is probably one of the most important things you can have. This kind of ranking that leads to trimming the work force serves to dampen the latter, while not adding much of significant value to resolve the former. If you have people in management you can trust (seriously, put your energy here), you can also trust them to identify the people who are bringing down a department. It doesn't mean needing to demoralize everyone else in the process.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:41 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the bit about not wanting Gwyneth because she didn't have a degree, that hiring had to go through her, the content decisions, and the stuff about the QPRs is true, then Meyer and AOL's Tim Armstrong deserve each other in some kind of hell for hubristic, inhumane, tone-deaf CEOs.

That said, save Flickr! Forever and always, save Flickr!
posted by fedward at 9:58 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Both Yahoo and DuckDuckGo turn up nearly all of the already corrected pages too, making them useless — I'm guessing Google's spiders are faster.

So by "Yahoo and DuckDuckGo" what you mean is Bing.

Yahoo signed Bing to power its search & search ads business in 2010 and that deal is still going AFAIK. DDG is basically a nice wrapper around Bing's search API. DDG doesn't crawl or index anything (again AFAIK).

So really the race in the US is between Google and Bing. Yahoo could have been a contender - maybe they still could be. But not without major investment. Sadly Yahoo isn't making that investment. Perhaps Meyer is just going to turn out to be Armstrong, someone who provides a pretty face behind the wheel as the ship slips beneath the waves. I wish it were otherwise.

Anyway, it's not just spiders, it's indexing the crawled data and then pushing those updated indexes out to the results pages. Crawling is easy relatively speaking.
posted by GuyZero at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2014


If I have all my numbers right, YHOO still owns about 384 million shares, currently worth $42 billion or nearly 90% of the current YHOO market cap.

Also, Yahoo made $9.4 billion by selling Alibaba stock at the IPO. So their current valuation is basically Alibaba stock plus cash minus the actual negative value of Yahoo as a business.
posted by smackfu at 9:59 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Before itunes, getting music onto a device was a nightmare of conflicting formats and DRM and shitty software. Jobs solved that problem. The ipod was the least interesting part of that - hardware is easy

Industry interference also a big part of why the original iTunes phone mentioned above sucked. The mobile phone carriers wanted to push their own overpriced and unpopular proprietary music stores, so they forced the phone to be crippled to only allow a small number of songs to be loaded on it and otherwise intefered with the main functionality of the device. When Apple first approached carriers about the iPhone and wouldn't cave to their demands, they got a lot of pushback (the carriers also didn't want touch-based devices or smartphones in general for non-business customers). Traditionally the mobile phone business model depends on carriers subsidizing and pushing sales of particular models of phones, so usually having a device that the public wants is useless unless the carriers get behind it. That's why the iPhone was exclusive to AT&T at first, Verizon didn't want anything to do with it until it became a big hit. So a lot of their success in that industry was less about designing a better product and more about getting around the artificial restrictions that the established players in the industry had to deal with.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:01 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


leopard: IAmBroom, as mentioned above Yahoo's stock price is heavily driven by its stake in Alibaba.
Oops.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:02 AM on December 18, 2014


Seriously everyone, please go read Yahoo's balance sheet.

From June 30 to Sept 30 their cash increased by $9B and their long-term assets increased by about $32B. It's great to win the lottery but a) that's not an actual long-term strategy and b) it had nothing at all to do with Meyer since those shares were acquired a long time before she showed up.

The "other shareholder equity" line item ballooned from nearly nothing ($223M) to $18.6B overnight. It's balance sheet magic.

Nice work if you can get it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Most of their users are legacy users - has any teenager used Yahoo in a decade?

I work at an urban community college, and I am stunned by how many of our first-year kids have Yahoo e-mail accounts.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


the one competitor that is a literal laughingstock to the young and technically literate.

The middle aged and technically literate I'd say. The young and technically literate don't even have AOL in their headspace as something risible.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Honey, can I get some "Steve Jobs Time"?
posted by benzenedream at 10:44 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


So ... we cannot judge her by the stock value, because the stock value is mostly based on the performance of another company she has no control over. And we cannot judge her based on corporate assets, because the corporate assets are artificially high right now because of the deal with that other company.

Which I guess means she has to be judged on the profits unrelated to that other company? Which ... appear to have remained pretty much steady over the last two years?

So ... OK?
posted by kyrademon at 10:52 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


By trying to take a moribund company operating on the margins and find "the next big thing" that would ignite revenues. Which is why (some say) Yahoo has been buying companies like Tumblr.

Calling the acquisition of Tumblr an Apple-like strategy is seriously confused.

Again, Yahoo is an advertising company. They deliver eyeballs and clicks in exchange for money. Companies like Yahoo are interested in Tumblr and the like because lots of people look at Tumblr. There's no clear revenue model but hey, consider YouTube and Facebook. Revenue models aren't always obvious in advance, especially in a rapidly changing industry.
posted by leopard at 10:55 AM on December 18, 2014


Which I guess means she has to be judged on the profits unrelated to that other company? Which ... appear to have remained pretty much steady over the last two years?

Pretty much. It's a big "meh."
posted by GuyZero at 11:07 AM on December 18, 2014


Killer app? Everyone who is rushing to judgment on Yahoo will look pretty silly once Community hits Yahoo Screen.
posted by chimpsonfilm at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


1. Use the ymail domain to try out all your Google-Inbox-UI fantasies, including heavy social-media integration. Market it in a way that subliminally disses Google+.
2. New rule for yahoo.com email addresses: whatever interface you had when you signed up, the default option is to keep it forever. Hire a greeting card writer to write the slogan.
3. Bring back upvotes on search results, add comments, integrate with Answers. (This will be a total mess that Mefi will make fun of, but lots of people would love that shit).
4. Hire somebody from Instagram to create an alternate Flickr app. Market it as a place for your own photos, not memes.
5. Start running '90s Yahoo! commercials, unedited, on modern tv networks and streaming sites. But only on, like, niche shows at 2 in the morning.


I've spent the last five minutes working on my save-Yahoo! plan, and I think I've come up with some pretty good taglines:

1. Ymail: Your Networks, Your Mailbox.
2. Yahoo Mail: The One You Know.
3. Answers Search: Contribute to the world's biggest crowdsearching project.
4. Flickr: It's About the Pictures.
5. Yaho-o-o-o-o-o! (cue banjo)

Get at me, Mayer, I could shit these out all day.
posted by box at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Whether it's a meh or not depends largely on what the trajectory was when she came aboard (I'm assuming it was either sloped downward or approaching a cliff). It's not easy to turn around an internet behemoth in two years, so holding steady seems like a pretty decent achievement, all things considered.

"Sorrell asked Mayer why she did not return his emails. Sheryl Sandberg, he said, always got back to him."

This struck me as a bit weird and presumably another example of the death by a thousand papercuts type of sexism women have to deal with all the time. It wasn't Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page always got back to me, it was Sheryl Sandberg. A female CEO doesn't get compared to other CEOs, just the next high profile female exec. (Obviously Sheryl Sandberg is very high profile, but still COO ≠CEO).
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:38 AM on December 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Nicholas Carsons gotta Nicholas Carson.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:59 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously, people really identify with the demographic of their product.

Absolutely, and like I said that's certainly a big part of why the iPod remained the dominant MP3 player even though Apple's competitors were hot in its heels with almost equivalent cheaper devices - though the iTunes lock-in probably helped them a lot too. But I don't think they could have made it all happen the way it did, building up their initial demographic of "real people you know who got this cool device" if they hadn't delivered on the things people actually wanted in an MP3 player at the time (that didn't quite exist yet) and made a huge leap in solving digital music sales at the same time. I guess I really think that before the iPod and iTunes digital music players were really not quite up to the bar of being something a large number of people would want no matter how they were advertised.

Maybe a better example of what (I think) you're talking about would be Beats by Dre. Iovine and Young and Co. didn't pioneer much on the technical side as far as I know, but they figured out they could use style and celebrity endorsements to sell to kids who like loud booming music, but couldn't be assed to figure out the large, opaque and unglamorous world of high-quality headphones.
posted by atoxyl at 12:28 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Honey, can I get some "Steve Jobs Time"?"

$20, SAIT
posted by klangklangston at 12:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


My dream is that whenever the dust settles, Yahoo ends up giving Flickr back to Butterfield et al in a fire sale.
posted by mullingitover at 12:37 PM on December 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


> "(I'm assuming it was either sloped downward or approaching a cliff)."

Looks to me like:

Yahoo's income rose fairly steadily until the end of 2008.

It dropped down at the beginning of 2009, but held reasonably steady at the new mark until the end of 2010.

It dropped down again at the beginning of 2011, and has been holding there ever since.

So there were two major earnings drops before Mayer, and none since she was brought on board, but it's honestly probably too early to tell if that means anything yet.
posted by kyrademon at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Killer app? Everyone who is rushing to judgment on Yahoo will look pretty silly once Community hits Yahoo Screen.

That's nice... except that with Yvette Nicole Brown now gone, it's missing almost half the original cast and I SAID I WOULDN'T CRY, DAMMIT.
posted by psoas at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2014


Why does anyone deserve a $68 million contract for any one job at a single company? They should be able to handle take-down profiles all the time if they expect that sort of money. They should practically be a cost of doing business, a requirement (but not boring).

Anyone whose performance actually merits that much money should be so perfect at their job that the takedown articles should completely lack for material.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2014


So long as Flickr still works, I'm happy with Yahoo. The new mobile apps they added, finally giving us a way to actually use Flickr easily on iPad/iPhone? Great. Essentially unlimited photo storage? Awesome. I've told all my photographer friends to use them to backup, because hell it's a free terabyte and you don't have to make it public. Even every cell phone snapshot is saved, no worries. Yay. Especially in a world where cell phone IS the camera for most people. I have paid for Flickr Pro for years. I still do, actually, even though it's free now; I like no ads plus actually unlimited storage. It's worth the few bucks a year it costs to keep it alive.

But... there's pretty much no other reason for me to use them. Yahoo as my default Firefox search engine? Yeah that lasted one search, at which point I said "WTF, Yahoo? Really?" and changed it back...
posted by caution live frogs at 1:42 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't know what did it and ran a malware scan. Turns out it was just Firefox I guess. A surprising number of people will not know how to or not care to change it though.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:34 PM on December 18, 2014


Firefox switching away from Google search is kind of a big deal. That contract has been enormously valuable for Mozilla: $282M in 2013. That's a shit-ton of money for some free software, and good on Mozilla for earning it. Every time that deal has come up for renewal Microsoft and/or Yahoo has tried hard to win it. And someone finally took it away from Google. I have to believe Marissa's status as former Google insider had a lot to do with that deal, both realizing how valuable it was and maybe having the access and knowledge to finally make a winning bid.

I imagine Yahoo had to guarantee a lot of revenue to win the deal. I also think it's very unlikely Yahoo will be able to profit off of Firefox traffic as well as Google has. Rumor has it Google was already paying a very generous share of total revenue to Mozilla so I don't think there was much wiggle room. Yahoo may be taking an enormous risk.

GuyZero is right that Yahoo is no longer a search engine; they sold the search operation to Microsoft and license search from Bing now. I'm less clear on what's happened to ads and pay per click search ads. The old CPC ad business from Overture is now folded into a monolithic "Yahoo Bing Ads Network", right? Presumably the ads Firefox users will be seeing are some complex mix of Yahoo and Microsoft revenue.
posted by Nelson at 3:11 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


> Firefox switching away from Google search is kind of a big deal.

Ehh, it would've been a few years back, but Firefox peaked five years ago and now is down to ~14% market share. In a couple more years I can see it giving Opera a run for its money and that's pretty much it. Something tells me Larry Page isn't losing sleep over this one.
posted by mullingitover at 4:00 PM on December 18, 2014


You know who ELSE didn't have a college degree??
posted by Chitownfats at 6:46 PM on December 18, 2014


Bill Gates? No, wait, I know this one. Hitler?
posted by box at 7:50 PM on December 18, 2014


Church lady?
posted by learnsome at 8:14 PM on December 18, 2014


Firefox peaked five years ago and now is down to ~14% market share.

Its former boss also supporting discrimination against the gays probably hasn't helped much in the mind-share department.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 9:36 PM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Holy smoke, Chrome has a ~50% share? Considering all the adblock patterns I've had to add to keep google from tracking everything I do, switching to a browser written by Google would be a little counterproductive.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:15 PM on December 19, 2014


The ~ in mullingitover's numbers for Firefox is incorrect. Wikipedia says Firefox's market share is 16.4%, 17.1%, or 18.5% depending on who you believe. (I'm ignoring Net Applications' number, their sample is bizarre.) Firefox is in decline since it's 30% peak in 2010 but still is the third largest browser. Some reports put it ahead of MSIE now.

It's amazing how Chrome has eaten up the market. Presumably there's no risk of Chrome switching away from Google ads. Remarkably self-sustaining ecosystem Google has built for itself.
posted by Nelson at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


> The ~ in mullingitover's numbers for Firefox is incorrect.

Tilde is shorthand for "about," and if it's not down to 14% now, the way things are going, you just need to be patient.
posted by mullingitover at 4:51 PM on December 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nelson: "And someone finally took it away from Google. I have to believe Marissa's status as former Google insider had a lot to do with that deal, both realizing how valuable it was and maybe having the access and knowledge to finally make a winning bid."

If Mozilla had any clue about multiparty negotiations, I highly suspect Bing and Yahoo knew what the highest bid was, and in past contract negotiation rounds the C-suite executives set a cap on bids. The rational thing to do is cap your bid at break-even, and I have no evidence that Yahoo is more profitable than google per search user.

Like you said, they're taking an enormous risk. So I don't attribute Yahoo's winning bid to inside information on competitors. Rather I think it's probably an intentional overbid, with the intent being seen as doing something visibly different.
posted by pwnguin at 9:18 AM on December 20, 2014


So far the Firefox deal has had an enormous impact for Yahoo's market share. They have jumped to 29% share. Google has fallen to 63%.
posted by humanfont at 9:30 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's only their share among US users on the latest version of Firefox. Their share of all US search traffic has risen from 8.4% to 10.7%, with Google falling to around 75%. So that's not as dramatic, but it's still a significant amount of traffic shifting from Google to Yahoo—probably millions of users per day. (The Yahoo number is still climbing gradually as more Firefox users upgrade.)
posted by mbrubeck at 10:25 AM on December 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


This article lost me when it used Tim Armstrong as an example of a good CEO. Tim Armstrong is both incompetent and a shrieking asshole.

That jarred with me too, given that what I know about Tim Armstrong largely comes from this piece from a year ago, by the same author, in the same tone, referencing the same "activist shareholder" Jeff Smith. In that article Smith wanted to split up AOL and ditch Armstrong. Now he wants to merge Yahoo with AOL and low and behold a hit piece appears on Mayer.

The only solid fact I seem to be able to glean from all this is that there are some people in the world paid disproportionately large sums of money, whether they're good at their jobs or not.
posted by chill at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Isn't this the exact same thing that we were reading a few years ago about Carly Fiorina? (apart from the latter transitioning into a right-wing nutjob after she was chased out of HP by an angry mob)
posted by schmod at 9:46 AM on December 24, 2014


A little late, but here's a rebuttal to the article focussed on double standards and poor journalism.
posted by Nelson at 2:03 PM on December 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


By the same author as the New York Times piece: The Hard Questions Yahoo Employees Asked Marissa Mayer
posted by mbrubeck at 10:22 AM on January 8, 2015




« Older Love before War   |   PEOPLE! LEMME HEAR YUH! LET'S SEE SOME HANDS!... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments