As if Marissa "Evita Breadsticks" Mayer didn't have it hard enough, we can now add America's favorite derriere to her ample list of enemies.
According to a report from Vanity Fair, it seems like the embattled Yahoo CEO's attempt to build a media empire over in the Purple Kingdom was severely undermined by the famous butt of Kimberly Kardashian. And that theory is being espoused by those inside Yahoo media...
Yahoo’s journalists used to joke amongst themselves about the extensive variety of Kind bars provided, but now the snacks aren’t being replenished. Instead, employees frequently remind each other that there is little reason to bother creating quality work within Yahoo’s vast eco-system of middle-brow content. “You are competing against Kim Kardashian’s ass,” goes a common refrain.
A "common refrain"? Can you dance to it?
Well, can you at least explain?
Those inside Yahoo seem to think that Marissa went after too much famous talent...
She hired Katie Couric as Yahoo’s “global anchor” in late 2013, for a deal reportedly worth more than $5 million a year. (According to a person close to the company, the deal has been renewed at a value closer to $10 million, in a combination of cash and stock.) Yahoo recruited Megan Liberman from The New York Times to be editor in chief of Yahoo News; it also hired the Times’ tech columnist David Pogue and its star political reporter, Matt Bai. Andy Serwer, the former editor of Fortune, was brought in to run Yahoo Finance. Mayer recruited Elle’s then creative director, Joe Zee, to run a style-focused digital magazine, former New York Post Page Six editor Paula Froelich to lead Yahoo Travel, and makeup impresario Bobbi Brown to run Yahoo Beauty.
...without pausing to really ponder what she was really doing...
According to current Yahoo staffers, flaws with Mayer’s “experiment” were evident early on, the result of a clash between the company’s splashy new hires and its culture of programmers, who typically paid more attention to analytics than boldface names. “There were pretty serious alignment issues in the company about supporting [the media properties],” the former executive told me.
Crucially, Yahoo’s billion-person-a-month home page is run by an algorithm, with a spare editorial staff, that pulls in the best-performing content from across the site. Yahoo engineers generally believed that these big names should have been able to support themselves, garner their own large audiences, and shouldn’t have relied on placement on the home page to achieve large audiences. As a result, they were expected to sink or swim on their own.
Which brings us to Kim's rump...
Understandably, this bred some resentment within the newsroom, as writers with large egos and paychecks found themselves awash in a sea of lower-level content. Some writers felt “you could almost never find them because Kim Kardashian’s ass is so large it just pushed them off into the margin,” as one former staff member told me. One current employee explained that Yahoo’s algorithm serves up individualized content depending on a user’s habits. So if someone is complaining about seeing too much Kim Kardashian, this person said, “let’s stop lying that you are not clicking on it.”
But this all seems a little bit over-dramatic to us.
After all, if Kim Kardashian's heinie was that powerful, Starboard Value Partners would be trying to nominate it to Yahoo's board before Marissa could add it to her roster of all-star advisors.
That's how business works.