Will a Google injection save the flatlining Yahoo?

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Danielle Lundquist.

Yahoo-locccgo-after-recession-humorousIt’s no secret that Yahoo! has been a sinking ship for years.

Financial woes, regular layoffs, questions about its relevance, and a revolving door of questionable CEOs – which includes Carol Bartz, who was better known for her foul mouth than her business acumen, and Scott Thompson, who lied about his educational background – have not helped matters.

Simply put, Yahoo! is a disaster of a company. I would even go so far as to say it’s a has-been that’s been bested by Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Google and a slew of other start-ups for years. But Yahoo! took an important step toward restoring its battered reputation by naming Marissa Mayer as CEO earlier this week.

Mayer’s “geek” background and achievements at Google have been well documented, and there’s no question that she’ll bring a very different, fresh approach to Yahoo!. Her product savvy as well as commitment to making great user experiences will undoubtedly make some kind of immediate dent at Yahoo!, boost morale, and attract some much-needed talent in the process. Yahoo! was smart to recognize the breath of fresh air that Mayer can hopefully inject right off the bat.

At age 37, she becomes one of the youngest CEOs among the world’s largest companies anywhere. And at six months pregnant … that puts her in a CEO league all her own.

All of which makes Yahoo! look … dare I say it … smart.

I really must applaud Yahoo! for what seems to me a calculated move to not only work on its business but also – and maybe most importantly – its reputation. Mayer’s own reputation sparkles – even though she ruffled a few feathers by skipping today’s earnings call (it’s her second day on the job – I’ll give her a pass for not yet having a direction for the company fully fleshed out). She’s a well-known workhorse, a smart, dedicated professional, and relatable (despite the millions she has in the bank). Simply by osmosis, some of that should rub off on Yahoo!. After the debacle of the last few years, that’s something of monumental importance for Yahoo!.
Yahoo! also didn’t blink when Mayer told the Board that she was pregnant – something that I’m unsure other Fortune 500 companies would have done in the same position. And there’s already been debate in the blogosphere about whether she’s up to the task with a baby on the way. Deanne Katz wrote that, “While Marissa Mayer's pregnancy was likely not intended to make such a statement, it certainly is a positive message that having a baby and being a high powered executive are not mutually exclusive.”

In today’s day and age, I don’t think this is really a debate we should (or need) to have anymore. With Mayer’s appointment, Yahoo! seems to agree.

It’s Board was smart enough to recognize that she brought a certain something to the table, pregnant or not, and that her work truly speaks for itself. Yahoo! knows it has monumental challenges, and time will tell if Mayer (or anyone, quite frankly) can right the ship. But Mayer is hands down the best person at this time to try to help them get there. I wish her the best.

2 thoughts on “Will a Google injection save the flatlining Yahoo?

  1. Yahoo needs to reinvent itself. Can one person do it — either male or female? — it’s a 24/7 all-consuming job. Ms. Mayer will be making enough money to hire a staff to assist her personal needs while she tries to save a sinking ship.

  2. It’s a good move all around. Even if Mayer can’t right the ship — and we’re right to have serious doubts — it’s a significant hire on many levels.
    Less noticed this week is that The New York Times hired its first woman public editor, while Jill Abramson is executive editor. Pinch Sulzberger may have made a mess of the business model, but he seems to be doing good things on the editorial side.