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Will Marissa Mayer Save Yahoo!?

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Few people in Silicon Valley command more respect than Marissa Mayer. She’s known as a smart person who can make big things happen. Yahoo! shares recently hit an 18-month high as investors gained confidence in her abilities even while she opts to keep detailed plans under wraps. Still, there are naysayers. Business Insider suggests Yahoo’s board may have made a mistake hiring Mayer and plenty of people are making a stink about her work/home life. I personally don’t believe that the question we should be asking is whether or not Marissa is capable of making big things happen at Yahoo!—she is. The question is will she actually make big things happen. To help you make up your mind on the matter, our tech panelists are here to give you their two cents.

Other recent questions:

She Has the Talent to Invent a New Future

No, of course she won’t. That’s why it’s called hyperbole. But can she turn Yahoo! around? Watching the Internet giant become a multinational in search of a business model is like watching your favourite rock band from high school put out a reunion album. You know they’ve probably got it in them, but you half-wonder if it’s worth it. Nostalgia and reality should never be in the same room. Marissa certainly has the talent and track record to move past all of that and invent a new future for Yahoo! We’ll know soon enough.

Ryan Merkley (@ryanmerkley) is Chief Operating Officer at Mozilla, where he recently launched the Webmaker initiative, helping users of the web become makers of the web.

The Hype is Justified

There is hype around Marissa Mayer for a reason. She has created an amazing brand for herself. But no matter what label we try to stick on her–data geek, CEO Mom, media darling, or ball breaker–she continues to defy our expectations. Most importantly, innovative product design is in Marissa’s DNA and therefore a cornerstone of Yahoo!’s new strategy. When every decision is made with the product and customer in mind, that is always a recipe for success.

Jon Stein (@jonstein) is the founder and CEO of Betterment and is passionate about helping people make smart decisions with their money.

Give Her A Year to Prove Herself

We all have the ability to produce that “wow factor.” While it is too early to measure one’s impact, I believe she deserves a chance to show the world what she’s capable of. Not just in 6 months, but a year. Yahoo! is a big company, and her position as CEO is layered and demanding. I am certain that she has great people around her, and has great insight from her days at Google. She’ll do fine.

Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) is a digital media consultant and writer for Social Media Week.

There Is Real Potential Now

There are so many reasons to be excited about Marissa Mayer’s appointment at Yahoo!. The one that stands out for me is age, she is young and if she can do it then there is proof that a fresh set of eyes can be more valuable than years of experience alone. It is good that people seem to be rooting for her, wanting her to succeed so she should be able to keep the support of the media behind her. At the same time Yahoo! itself has a position in the market that is getting close to irrelevant. Regardless, I think there is real potential to make something interesting out of the companies it already owns (and might be about to buy with the proceeds of Alibaba). Even if she manages to slow down the decline of Yahoo! in my opinion that makes her a success and I hope the media feel the same, however there is a chance she might be able to do something a little bit magical and if she can then this will be one of the great CEO stories of all time.

Matt Mills (@mattmills), Global Head of Partnerships and Innovation Aurasma.

Marissa Will Win If She Puts Mobile First

Though early on in her term at Yahoo, it’s no doubt Marissa Mayer is one of the most watched and scrutinized figureheads in the Fortune 500 today. People are either keeping their fingers crossed she’ll actually succeed in whatever it is she is brewing, or they are playing a bitter game of devil’s advocate lobbying for her inevitable failure. Right now we all have little to go from as internal intel and media outreach from Mayer has been minimal. But she and everyone else knows that mobile is a huge part of re-imagining Yahoo. Accompanying her early rhetoric is the value of Yahoo’s various online products such as mail, news, weather, and sports – all content currently in daily demand by mobile users worldwide. If Mayer takes the calculated step to win where they can and take those products to the next level on mobile before bothering to tweak their desktop platform yet again, I believe she and Yahoo can pull ahead of the hype and win what will be a small, yet ongoing victory with its next generation of users.

Annisa Farese (LinkedIn), Manager Marketing Communications xAd.

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