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  • Can This Company Be Reenergized?

    Posted by David Foster on July 17th, 2012 (All posts by )

    What should Marissa Mayer do with Yahoo?

     

    14 Responses to “Can This Company Be Reenergized?”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Some thoughts from MM on Yahoo’s troubles, in a 2009 interview:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/halahtouryalai/2012/07/16/marissa-mayer-on-why-yahoo-lost-its-place/

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      Yahoo, with the right management, should have been what Google became. They dominated the Internet and searches.

    3. Brandoch Daha Says:

      Ship the employees to China for dog food. Compress all the other assets into bricks to make houses in the third world.

    4. David Foster Says:

      An absolutely bizarre view of the reasons for the appointment of women to senior executive positions:

      “The term “glass cliff” was coined to describe such situations as Mayer’s Yahoo appointment. The theory comes from the work of British academics Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, who demonstrated several years ago that women are most likely to get appointed to top gigs when the chance of failure is highest. The two researchers contended that sexism causes those in power to appoint women to these risky positions because they don’t want to risk tainting a prominant man with the stink of failure.”

      It is certainly true that high-risk situations tend to encourage the selection of people who under calmer circumstances wouldn’t get the job: for example, Anne Mulcahy was basically an HR executive when she was picked to run Xerox…then facing bankruptcy…and in more-normal times would probably not have been a leading candidate for the job. But the idea that a board of directors, with their own reputations and often their own money at stake, would decide to pick a woman because they didn’t want to risk tainting a MAN with the anticipated failure…that is just plain weird.

    5. David Foster Says:

      Meant to include the link for the above quote:

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/helaineolen/2012/07/16/marissa-mayer-and-the-glass-cliff/

    6. Jonathan Says:

      Most glass whatever arguments are bullshit. All of the big tech companies lose high-level people who go off to run smaller companies or start their own. Who knows what Mayer’s motives are or what the reasoning of the Yahoo board is. It’s silly to focus on sex as a variable when there are many other obvious and more relevant considerations.

    7. Jonathan Says:

      That said, I’m guessing that hiring Mayer won’t save Yahoo, not because of Mayer but because of Yahoo.

    8. Bill Brandt Says:

      I do believe – with Yahoo – they missed some very good opportunities – both to be bought out by Microsoft (the founder – head at the time – forget his name – but he didn’t want that –

      They were forming a huge window – search engines, email – that Google took over.

      At this point, I don’t know what they can do.

      But then better minds than mine have made huge strides in hi tech – directions I could not have foreseen – so good luck to Marissa.

      I have had stock in Yahoo for a good 15 years – was supposed to “make me a fortune” .

      Now it is so relatively worthless I just hold it hoping for a takeover.

      BTW trying to figure out Forbe’s “thought of the day” – “A Quiet Conscience Sleeps in thunder” ???????

    9. Jason in LA Says:

      $44.6 Billion or $31 a share…..That is how much Microsoft offered Yahoo in the spring of 2008. Today Yahoo’s market cap is $19 Billion @ $15.60 a share.

    10. Bill Brandt Says:

      @Jason – Yep. Want any stock advice from me? ;-)

    11. Ginny Says:

      Okay, I know nothing about big business or Mayer, but this glass bull shit isn’t a good sign – are observers looking for an excuse before she even begins? (I assume that’s not her attitude but don’t know – someone’s perspective’s screwed.)

    12. David Foster Says:

      Ginny….I believe the professors who concocted the “glass cliff” thing did so earlier, not with specific reference to MM.

      The assertion that Carly Fiorina’s selection to run HP…not sure whether it was perpetrated by the professors or the journalist…was an example of a very high risk situation seems highly questionable. She was appointed CEO in 1999, at which time HP had its issues but wasn’t in desperate trouble like Xerox was when Mulcahy became CEO.

    13. David Foster Says:

      Bill Brandt…”hey missed some very good opportunities”

      Shakespeare:

      There is a tide in the affairs of men.
      Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
      Omitted, all the voyage of their life
      Is bound in shallows and in miseries

      On the other hand, Emily Dickenson:

      Ruin is formal — Devil’s work
      Consecutive and slow —
      Fail in an instant, no man did
      Slipping — is Crash’s law

    14. L. C. Rees Says:

      I had friends working for HP while Carly Fiorina was CEO. Their uniformly held opinion of Fiorina was that she was an incompetent who did as much as possible to destroy those parts of HP that still had the old HP Way in their blood.

      Fiorina came to HP from Lucent, AT&T’s equipment manufacturing arm before it was spun off by 1990s IPO fever. Lucent was flying high in 1999 on the strength of the telecom bubble and the extravagant spending telecom providers were indulging in. Fiorina became CEO because HP’s board was blinded by the reflected glory of Lucent’s “impressive management”. Bubbles pop and the Fiorina bubble popped just like the Lucent and telecom bubbles popped and deservedly so. Fiorina golden parachuted away, Lucent became an accounting identity on Alcatel’s balance sheet, and the telecom industry imploded.

      When Fiorina ran for Senate in 2010 against Barbara, many people conflated her with fellow candidate Meg Whitman as a “successful businesswoman” who’d bring her “business savvy” to politics. This comparison was stupid: Meg Whitman was a successful businesswoman with demonstrated business savvy who’d grown a small business into a great one. Carly Fiorina was a corporate apparatchik turned media-manufactured phenom with no business savvy who’d reduced a one great business to a ruined shell.

      Her career is another demonstration that corporate boards packed with compliant placemen appointed to sinecures that lack significant exposure to potential blowback from their decisions are a clear and present danger to American capitalism. Management divorced from ownership breeds stupidity and if stupidity is shielded from its just deserts than capitalism doesn’t work. Capitalism is nothing without punishment for market failure and with boards like HP’s and Yahoo’s we see a whole lotta nothing.