Yahoo

But a glittering surface often deflects attention from a messier reality, and that’s true with Mayer and Yahoo. No one wants to sound as if they aren’t rooting for Yahoo or for her, and because Mayer didn’t cooperate for this article, even her friends were often unwilling to speak on the record about her. She’s anything but easy to categorize, in ways that are both interesting and possibly troubling for Yahoo’s future. “She is a confusing person,” says someone who has worked with her closely. “It is a mistake to paint her as an angel or as a devil.” Another executive who worked with her agrees that she is a hard person to understand. “There are some parts of Marissa World that are just inexplicably weird,” he says. “It doesn’t add up.” [Vanity Fair, related]

According to a multitude of top-ranking posts on an anonymous internal message board used by Yahoo to vent their frustrations to top staff, employees there are becoming increasingly upset by an evaluation system instituted by CEO Marissa Mayer that has apparently resulted in the firings of more than 600 people in recent weeks. A key point: The fact that some staffers are being let go is not the core issue — many inside agree that the Silicon Valley Internet giant has long needed to prune its employees and upgrade its talent base. Mayer has been aggressively doing that, even adding to overall employee numbers at Yahoo, largely via an incessant series of acquisitions. Instead, some inside the company are incensed that the “Quarterly Performance Review” system forces managers to rank some of their staff with designations of “Occasionally Misses” and “Misses,” even if it is not the case, via what is essentially a modified bell curve. Those fired recently had gotten lower scores at least two times in recent quarters, said multiple sources, as I reported last week. Mayer denied that the rankings were forced at a staff meeting this week, noting that they were more guidelines or the process was not being deployed correctly. [AllThingsD via Gawker]

“Will we see Larry Page on the cover of Vogue?” [Charlie] Rose asked. “It wasn’t the cover,” Mayer corrected, clearly embarrassed. She went on to say that the photo was unplanned and “out of necessity.” The photographer Mikael Jansson’s assignment was to capture an unconventional CEO in an unconventional pose — sitting ladylike on the chaise wasn’t going to cut it. When Jansson suggested she lay upside down, she hesitated. He assured her it would “look good” and so she went for it. [Mashable via Fashionista, earlier]

Richard Lee, of the SAC Capital Lees, had a “senior internet research analyst” friend named Sandeep Aggarwal (illustrated at left), who had an unnamed friend working at Microsoft, who had material non-public information re: “a Microsoft-Yahoo partnership agreement…likely to be announced in the next two weeks.” See if you can guess what happened next. Read more »

  • 25 Jun 2013 at 6:11 PM

Yahoo Shareholder Accurately Describes Himself

At Yahoo’s shareholder meeting today, a scuzzy shareholder [named George Polis] said to Marissa Mayer, “I’m Greek and I’m a dirty old man, and you look attractive.” He then asked about a dividend. [BI, HP]

If you’ve seen the internet today you know that everyone wants to talk about their feelings regarding the union of Yahoo! and Tumblr, those icons of two different generations of internet orthography. Do you prefer the florid olden style of Extraneous Punctuation! or the sleek postmodern vibe of Mssng Lttrs?1 Let us know in the comments or, of course, on your Tumblr. Here’s Goldman’s note:

Management cited the “uncanny” fit between Tumblr, with its fast-growing but largely unmonetized usage, and Yahoo, with its strengths in monetization but declining engagement.

Many people would think “avaricious widely disliked company” and “well-liked nonprofit, more or less,” would not be a good fit for each other, but I guess “uncanny” doesn’t actually mean “good.”

The press release is … terrible? Unspeakable. “Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business,” begins the second paragraph. Are you encouraged? If you’re a Tumblr user? (Not really, right?2 ) If you’re a Yahoo! shareholder? I drew you a picture:

Etc., etc., there is this: Read more »

  • 24 Oct 2012 at 7:33 PM

Good Corporate Governance Apparently Does Some Good

We talked a while back about how “corporate governance” is a thing that exists more or less orthogonal to the thing that is “running your corporation as though you were a group of competent humans,” as evidenced by the fact that Citi’s mangled and perhaps legally problematic semi-firing of Vikram Pandit has been celebrated as a paragon of good governance. I don’t really know what “corporate governance” is, if not that, but much of its semantic space is covered by:

  • do your directors and CEO like each other? – [ ] Yes [ ] No
  • do you have strong takeover defenses? – [ ] Yes [ ] No

Two “No” answers = good governance; two “Yes” answers = sketchy.1

You might if you wanted to attempt to quantify those things – which is more important, and how if at all does the good governance that they reflect translate into things like shareholders making money? I enjoyed this Lucian Bebchuk DealBook post on a paper he wrote about golden parachutes in part because it gets at that a bit. Golden parachutes are a weird takeover-y topic: CEO employment contracts that provide for big payouts upon acquisition look formally like takeover defenses, insofar as they cost an acquirer money, but they’re actually sort of an anti-takeover-defense. They encourage takeovers since they’re a sign to acquirers that the CEO is not going to make things difficult if he gets a bid.

Anyway Bebchuk and his coauthors look at some data and find: Read more »