Yahoo shareholders liked the way new CEO Marissa Mayer handled yesterday’s earnings. The stock is currently up 6 per cent.
During the call, Mayer talked about some aspects of her plan that we already knew about:
- Yahoo is re-investing in brand advertising technology and boosting Yahoo’s search market share.
- Mayer and Yahoo are considering small acquisitions in mobile and ad tech.
Here are three things we didn’t know before yesterday’s third quarter earnings call, Mayer’s first as CEO:
Mayer is comfortable being a media executive. When Yahoo’s board of directors chose Mayer over interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn, everyone described the decision as a choice between a product exec in Mayer and a media exec in Levinsohn. But during yesterday’s earnings call, Mayer indicated that she sees lots of value in Yahoo actually owning the content some of its products feature.
“When we look at things like the Olympics, like the upcoming elections or even the conventions that happened at the end of August, what we’re seeing is, that by putting our reporters and our editors there, we are able to create interesting unique pieces of content that do drive meaningful page views and engagement, 3.5 billion minutes, for example, on the Olympics. And without a — an ownership of that content, and us doing some of our own original programming, we would not be able to drive that kind of engagement. So I do think that’s something that is ultimately important.”
That’s good news for lots of people at Yahoo, and several folks in the industry. Maybe Mayer will buy Buzzfeed?
Mayer has an alternative to layoffs that might still involve lots of people getting fired. Yahoo has too many employees and it needs to fix its cost structure. Mayer knows this and plans to do something about it. But during yesterday’s earnings call, she said that she is not currently looking at “a large scale restructuring.” Instead, she wants realign the company around Yahoo’s strategy. Specifically, she said that she wants half of Yahoo’s developers to be mobile developers. Right now, Yahoo is mostly a Web development shop. Lots of Yahoo developers need to learn how to build apps for mobile, or they will find themselves without jobs.
Mayer gave a timeline for Yahoo’s turnaround – “multiple years.” Asked how long it would take to return Yahoo revenue growth to tech industry norms, Mayer replied:
“Well, to be clear, my goal isn’t to grow at the industry rates. My goal is to grow faster and more than the industry rate. That said, I do think growing at industry rates is the first step. I think it will take multiple years to get to where I want the company to be, which is above market growth. That said, I do think that there will be measurable progress, such that shareholders will be able to see growth at the industry level or above in the meantime. Today, we already have some areas where we are growing at an industry level. We just have a few areas where [we] have some potential upside even if we can just get to growing at the industry rate.”
It is very smart of Mayer to tell analysts Yahoo’s turnaround will be a long term project. One of Tim Armstrong’s early mistakes at AOL was promising that growth would return sooner than it ever did, and then moving the goal posts.
Yahoo’s board has given Mayer plenty of time to work with, and she is smart to share these expectations with Wall Street so shareholders can decide if they want to buy into the project or sell the stock.