Photo: Jolie O’Dell Flickr
Yahoo’s decision to hire Marissa Mayer is reminiscent of AOL’s decision to hire Tim Armstrong.A big, but dying, internet brand looks to Google for a talented executive to turn it around.
Armstrong hasn’t fixed AOL, largely because he’s investing heavily in local-news operation, Patch. Patch is losing money and it’s a drag on the stock and the company overall.
Mayer doesn’t have any pet projects like Patch. If you look at her portfolio of startup investments, it’s a pretty decent, and eclectic mix of tech companies.
One reason Mayer has such a mix is that she’s a big part of the tech scene. And in this regard, she’s quite different than Armstrong.
No offence to Armstrong, but he is a sales guy, not a tech and product guy (or gal) like Mayer. Mayer ran Google’s search business, led the development of Gmail, iGoogle, and a number of other important Google products.
At Yahoo, she’ll be in charge of developing new products to set the company on a successful path. Armstrong hasn’t developed any new products for AOL. He took the bones of what was in place and added some meat to it with TechCrunch, Huffington Post, and a few other properties.
Yahoo’s board probably looked at AOL’s attempt to be a successful digital media company and saw how little it did for the stock. So, it went with Mayer, hoping that her tech/product chops would produce something new and exciting to save Yahoo.
It’s not going to be easy. But, if Mayer fails, it won’t be because she’s Tim Armstrong 2.0. It will be because turning around a dying Internet brand is really freaking hard.