Author compares Marissa Mayer's reign at Yahoo to 'a pilot who flew the Hindenburg'

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Now that Verizon has agreed to buy Yahoo for $4.83 billion cash, the question on everyone’s minds is: what will its CEO Marissa Mayer do next?

All we know, and perhaps all she knows, is that she’ll be sticking around long enough to see the transaction through.

“For the next six to nine months, I’m the CEO of Yahoo,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “I certainly plan to stay.”

But hardly anyone in the tech industry expects her to stick around at Verizon after the sale. And there’s the question of who would hire her as a CEO after her highly publicized struggles at Yahoo. As the Journal points out, under Mayer, Yahoo spent over $2 billion to buy more than 50 startups and she spent hundreds of millions more on mobile software, online video and search.

All that might be fine, even if revenue had bounced back fast enough to satisfy Wall Street’s short-term, quarterly focus.

But insiders complained that the underlying problem was that Mayer’s strategy was constantly changing, too. She bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion and after promising to be hands off, publicly told the world she expected Tumblr to make $100 million in revenue in 2015 and then installed her own execs to reportedly make that happen. Insiders criticised these people for having “little experience with Tumblr and even less rapport with its core employees,” reported Mashable.

She moved Yahoo toward TV programming with shows like and “Community,” “Sin City Saints” and “Other Space,” and then ditched the shows and the strategy.

And so on.

As Business Insider, the Wall Street Journal and other publications reported, d
ozens of executives left Yahoo as Mayer repeatedly shifted strategies. Back in October, 2015, one Yahoo insider complained to Business Insider, “She doesn’t listen to what others have to say.”

Even one of her strongest allies and friends, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, started to publicly doubt her. In December he said that she “has a great pay package, she has to be held accountable” and that a public CEO who can’t deliver and improve the stock price “should be removed.”

When it comes to Mayer being offered another high-profile CEO role, author and reputation consultant Eric Schiffer told the WSJ:

“It’s like a pilot who flew the Hindenburg to then be asked to fly the Goodyear Blimp during the Super Bowl. It won’t happen in the short-term.”

But in the longer-term, Mayer could rise again if she chooses to. She is incredibly well connected in the Valley, which counts for a lot, and she still has her admirers. She may land at a startup, launch her own startup, or continue to invest in and advise many startups and join boards until the time is right for her to try again.

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