Can Marissa Mayer turn around Yahoo ? Doubtful

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First let me say that I am not a big fan of Marissa Mayer, nor any business executive that seems to really spend a lot of energy getting their names in the press. I have seen so many pictures of Ms Mayer since it was announced that she was going to join Yahoo that it’s actually making me sick. Let’s be clear no company is about one person, it’s about everyone and what Yahoo needs right now is not an engineer with an inflated ego they need someone who can lead and resuscitate a failing brand.

According to Business Insider,

The other view, more common amongst long-time Googlers, is that Mayer is a publicity-craving, lucky early Googler, whose public persona outstripped her actual authority and power at the company, where she was once a rising star — thanks to a bullying managerial style — but had become marginalized over the past couple of years.

Yesterday we spoke at length on the phone with a former Google executive who worked with Mayer and says she and others like her have this view.

She told us twice: “This is a great day for Google, and a nail in the coffin for Yahoo.”

This source described an executive who “will work harder than anyone” and “is smarter than 99 percent of the people,” but “can’t scale herself” and “doesn’t understand managing any other way than intimidation or humiliation.”

This source says that when she worked with Mayer at Google, Mayer “was just a nightmare” — someone who had her own publicist, forced underlings to sign customized NDAs, and maintained “a shadow HR staff and a shadow recruiting staff just for her team.”

“No one understood why she had the power that she had, except that she will literally work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

“She used to make people line up outside of her office, sit on couches and sign up with office hours with her. Then everybody had to publicly sit outside her office and she would see people in five minute increments. She would make VPs at Google wait for her. It’s like you’ve got to be kidding.”

This source says that for a time, Mayer attended executive coaching lessons with Bill Campbell, but that the gossip is he refused to keep teaching her because she was unreceptive to feedback. Another source confirms a falling out between Campbell and Mayer, but doesn’t know why it happened.

I know some people who are still working at Yahoo and I can tell you that their moral is in the dumpster right now. What they don’t need is a CEO who is confrontational and has the ego the size of the Ukraine. They need someone who can say “we’re going to get great and this is how we are going to do it”.

Over the years as a technology marketer I have seen Ms Mayers picture plastered all over the Internet and for the life of me can’t thunk of anything that she has been responsible for at Google. When I see an executive who consistently craves the spotlight I know that executive is looking out for themselves not their company.

Being smart and working hard does not necessarily mean success when you take on a struggling brand like Yahoo. For all the talk about how great Steve Jobs was Apple is still kicking ass and their stock has seen record highs since he left us. A good executive can lead but also understand that the company has to be able to run while she, he, is away as Ms Mayer is shortly going to be taking maternity leave.

In the end Yahoo will eventually be sold and Ms Mayer will get another big check for her name not for what she has done.

Originally published at

Marketing contrarian with over 15 years of developing leading edge and award winning digital marketing initiatives.

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