Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Predicting The Outcome

Predictions are something that I'd like to do regularly. Here's how it works. I make a prediction and then keep a track record of it. It's how you know that I'm (not) worth listening to.

So here we go. Prediction # 1: Marissa Mayer's tenure as President and CEO of Yahoo! Incorporated will end in disappointment.

Here's my reasoning, in no particular order of importance:

  • Forget those clueless tech bloggers gushing over her capacity as head of search. That means nothing. The original Google was dominant in search because of Brin and Page. I can't find anything about her that says she was anything other than a glorified UX person. Yes, she holds several patents and is extremely intelligent and accomplished, but Brin, Page, and Schmidt were always the brains of the operation.
  • Yahoo is too far gone. Former CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang shouldn't have rebuffed Microsoft's ridiculous 40 billion dollar acquisition offer. Their stock has since halved and the company just doesn't have the clout, morale, resources, or capability (technically or otherwise) to pull off a successful second act. There's only been one person and one firm in the industry who did it: Steve Jobs and Apple. Marissa Meyer is no Steve Jobs and Yahoo is no Apple.
  • She's pregnant. She won't be able to dedicate her full and undivided attention to her duties as Yahoo's chief executive. In fact, I'll make a sub-prediction (that doesn't count for or against my prediction total) that everybody will eventually use her pregnancy and motherhood as a way to avoid tarnishing her stellar reputation.
  •  She has no real executive experience at the corporate level. It's one thing to be the head of a division with a clear purpose. It's another to head the entire company and trying to make it move in one direction.
  •  The lay of the land is different. Yahoo will need to create a completely new service/product in a completely new area in order to restore it back on a positive trajectory. I just don't see where that could come from. 
  This is not to say that I don't think Meyer can be a capable chief executive. Another place and time with a favorable tailwind (instead of considerable headwinds blowing from multiple directions), and she could have completely shattered the glass ceiling. But she won't do it at Yahoo. Book it.

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