Marissa Mayer Lays out a Broad Plan for Yahoo, and a New CFO

In the online world, it seems that there are a few favorites out there for the media. Google is obviously one company that garners lots of attention. Apple, with its hoard of fans and trend-setting devices, has no problem catching the internet’s attention. Twitter and Facebook obviously are on this “favorites” list. They are the platforms that hundreds of millions of people communicate with; when they make news, people listen.

One company that used to make waves and gets lots of press is Yahoo. I never did understand the allure of Yahoo. I suppose it was a great site and still is, but I was an early adopter of Google and probably a bit too young to appreciate all that Yahoo had to offer. I pretty much ignored it over the years. And in the last few years, Yahoo has seemed to somewhat fall into the shadows.

They came back to the front pages this year with some big changes that definitely made headlines and generated some heavy interest. Almost all of the buzz concerned Marissa Mayer, a former Google executive, who is now the CEO of Yahoo. Now, Marissa Mayer is making headlines again—not for who she is, but for what’s she’s getting done and what she hopes to accomplish.

Mayer Addresses Employees at Private Yahoo Meeting

On Tuesday night, according to an article on Reuters, Mayer gave her “first companywide address, … and received an enthusiastic reception from a workforce that has faced years of uncertainty and management turmoil.” I’ve worked in a place (and I know friends who have worked at places) where uncertainty and “management turmoil” start to eat away at a company. When that happens, morale suffers and everything problem seems to snowballs into something worse.

I’ve had my own ideas about how to turn those sorts of companies around. So does Marissa Mayer. I’m happy she and I share some of the same perspective. (I wish we shared some of the same multi-million dollar salary!) She recently made some “morale-boosting moves such as providing new iPhones and free food for employees.” These moves appear to be making a “dramatic and positive impact” for the employees at the company. With motivated and happy employees, you can turn a business around. Not that Yahoo is falling fast, but it has been falling steadily over the years to rivals like Google.

What Direction will Mayer take Yahoo?

According to the New York Times, Mayer “announced that she would replace Tim Morse, Yahoo’s chief financial officer, with Ken Goldman.” Goldman is—or should I say, was—the CFO of a computer security company named Fortinet. Taking Goldman’s expertise in mind, analysts are seeing this move as a sign that Mayer and Yahoo are “ready to expand through renewed investments and acquisitions.”

Mayer also discussed with employees the other area where Yahoo needs to expand, such as the mobile market, an area where Yahoo has made little (if any) effort to become a part of. In addition to the move into mobile, she, according to the NY Times, acknowledged that the company must “focus on user experience.” She even went as far to say that “acqui-hires” are to be expected. An acqui-hire is an “acquisition made for talent rather than technology.” Expect to see Yahoo spending in the future.

Tough Road Ahead

Mayer appears to be making some changes that look good. Her focuses on improving morale and employee happiness were favorable. I’m a firm believer in the idea that happy employees equal better and more loyal employees. For all the talk of teamwork in a company, when bad morale sets in, it can be easy for people to become bitter and frustrated with their situation, and that only makes things worse.

Yahoo still has a lot of work ahead of it to reverse its downward trends over the last few years. The stories about Mayer’s speech and the broad direction she announced for Yahoo actually got me excited. If she can turn Yahoo into a serious competitor, heck, even a threat to Google, imagine what that will do for competition and most importantly, for the consumer. Both companies would have a greater incentive to work harder and more creatively to provide what consumers want, and in the end, individuals and businesses that rely on or have a stake on the web would benefit.

What do you think of Yahoo’s future? Will they be able to seriously compete with Google?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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