After troubled months, full of scandals and controversies, the board of directors of Yahoo has finally taken its decision, with Marissa Mayer appointed as new CEO. It has been a big news, which outlines possible new scenarios, and why not, some faint hopes of recovery for a historic player of the Web.
About – 37 years old, young talent produced by Stanford University, Marissa Mayer was one of the earliest Google employees, hired back in 1999. For years she has been dedicated to the search aspects in Mountain View, becoming vice-president. Migrated in 2010 to the geo-location services (Maps, Local, etc …), her role is likely to have decreased in importance and focus in the progressive consolidation of these services around Google Plus and Android. The appointment as CEO of Yahoo! is therefore an incentive to demonstrate that she can stand on her own legs, as it was for other former Big G managers (Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook, Tim Armstrong at AOL).
What she finds – The company founded by Yang & Filo, a pioneer of the very first World Wide Web (1995), seems to be really in free fall, especially in the search, once the pride of this corporate. Yahoo! has passed, over a decade, from being the market leader until no longer a proprietary technology, making use of results from Microsoft Bing. In between there were a number of strategic errors, the loss of important resources (research guru Jeff Weiner, Flickr founders Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, Joshua Schachter, the founder of Delicious, and the vice-president Sean Suchter), the failure of Panama advertising platform, the blocked deal with Google to provide search services and Ads (blocked by Department of Justice). In short, a disaster. How Yahoo! publisher is still credible and popular, the problem remains having a machine that makes less revenues of what they could in relation to the number of visits received.
Possible strategies – Mayer, who is also pregnant, will choose to refit their own research as a first point of his term, given its experience in the topic? We doubt it, seriously. It would be like trying to put makeup on a corpse. Twenty years of history have shown us that the success cases in the industry come all from companies having a proprietary algorithm. And Yahoo! is not remotely close to rehave one. It’s more likely that she will tend to improve what is already in possession (the various content services), perhaps in favor of a better services integration and a portfolio streamlining, activities that Marissa has definitely learned to do well, in Mountain View. And why not to try a reconsideration of the agreement with Microsoft, and maybe a replacement for Google? Not all former lovers leave on bad terms, after all …