Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Government

Marissa Mayer on Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Government

At yesterday’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo!, discussed much with the topics ranging from Yahoo! to Microsoft to government with Michael Arrington, founder of TechCrunch.

Arrington opened the floor with what Mayer had done with Yahoo! up until now. Former Google vice president, Mayer had only been at Yahoo! for 1 year and 2 months and was able to double its stock. She attributed a good portion of this grand feat to the investments of her predecessors, but her revamp of how Yahoo! did things played a major part in this. She focused, in order, on: hiring the right people, product, traffic, and revenue.

 

To help explain the impact of Yahoo!’s newfound success, Mayer said that “the company receives 12,000 resumes a week” and that the company only has 12,000 positions—this means that every week, Yahoo! gets a resume for every possible position. In addition to this boom in potential employees, 10% of the company consists of boomerangs—employees who left and then returned to Yahoo!. She also mentioned that Yahoo! has 800 million users worldwide, and that value does not include Tumblr as well. To drive home the point that Yahoo! is still a strong contender, she asked the audience show how many used Yahoo! for any of its services in the past month; over half raised their hands.

 

The discussion then drifted towards her plans for Yahoo!. Arrington asked what changes she was planning, especially considering her prior position as vice president of Google. Mayer touched a bit upon Yahoo! mail, stating that its simpler design offers faster speeds than Google. She also plans on growing her mobile team by a factor of 10. After all, the mobile market is booming—a lot of people are using their smartphones to get information that Yahoo! already offers: mail, news, finance, sports, communication, etc.

 

Arrington then shifted the topic towards one of the two questions he always asked at the event: Who should be the new CEO of Microsoft? Mayer never did give a direct answer. She started off by saying that she admires both Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer and continues off by stating her observation of Microsoft being strong in the enterprise area, so it should look for someone who’s strength is in enterprise. Arrington then built upon her comment, asking about the weaknesses of CEOs. She said that there is actually a community of CEOs and that “they want to see each other succeed,” but what is most shocking about being a CEO is that there are so few decisions to be made, yet each of them are of the utmost importance to the fate of the company.

 

The second of Arrington’s favorite questions is about government requests for user data. Like Facebook, Mayer said that Yahoo! is trying to protect as much user privacy as they can from government. Unfortunately, companies cannot refuse to comply with the government, but Yahoo! plans to and does analyze and scrutinize all requests by the government, pushing them back as much as possible.

 

While this chat between Mayer and Arrington covered a few important topics, the conversation brings up a few key questions.  Is Yahoo!’s focus on mobile the best way to go? Who should be the next CEO of Microsoft? What should and can companies do about government requests for user? What do you think?

Dat Mai

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