Marissa Mayer Is Not Swinging Into Spring

It's still winter in the valley of Yahoo.
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Before we bid adieu to April, we thought it only prudent that we check in on our old pal Marissa Mayer and see how things are going over at the purple-hued tire fire that still goes by the name Yahoo...

Oh, Bloomberg has an update? Cool!

Mayer’s position is so weak that when a Bloomberg Businessweek reporter and an editor visited the company’s offices in New York to press the case for an interview, a security guard asked, unprompted, whether Mayer would keep her job. When the question was put back to him, he shook his head, grimaced, and tugged at his collar. “Those hedge fund guys,” he said, “they really don’t like her.”

Well that's..."telling."

And speaking of hedge fund guys who really don't like Double M, one of them is now on Yahoo's board!

Starboard Value has been a vocal critic of the tech giant, which has struggled to profit from its massive online audience. Last month, Starboard called for Yahoo's entire board of directors--including Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's chief executive, and H. Lee Scott, the former president of Wal-Mart--to be replaced. The hedge fund submitted a slate of hand-picked board members to stand for election on during Yahoo's next shareholder meeting.
Instead, Yahoo said Wednesday it will add four board members chosen by Starboard, including the hedge fund's founder, Jeff Smith. They will join the board immediately.

So Marissa's got foxes in her hen house while her security guards tug at their own collars. Yikes.

But at least she's getting ever closer to that "sale of the core business" thing that we've all been talking about since what seems like the beginning of recorded time. She's got a handful of suitors lining up to sift through the wreckage and see how much they want to pay for what's left of Yahoo, big names like Verizon and the Yellow Pages (happy 2016!) and even a private equity cabal that includes her predecessor, Ross Levinsohn.

Selling to Levinsohn's group would emit an air of capitulation that Marissa screwed the pooch after taking over the reins. But selling to the Yellow Pages would be an almost tacit admission that she bombed Yahoo back into the dark ages. So she's psyched about Verizon right, what with AOL already being there and being the content/ad ying to Yahoo's yang?

Right, Vanity Fair?

Mayer, however, did not want that deal. As she relayed to her executives, in fact, she wanted nothing of the sort. She had not yet publicly come to terms with Yahoo’s need to sell its core business. More significantly, she bristled at anyone’s comparison of Yahoo to stodgy AOL. And she let her colleagues hear about it. “Can you believe it?” she told her top executives at the time, according to a source. “We are like Google and Facebook! We are not AOL!” (A person close to Yahoo pointed out that Mayer has often compared Yahoo to Facebook and Google in terms of digital advertising revenue, and that the comment may have been taken out of context.)

Wait, what's wrong with Verizon/AOL other than it being not as "cool?" Didn't Marissa work with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong back in the day at Google? Are they not bros?

Armstrong also appeared to fall short of Mayer’s other standards. The Stanford graduate, who reportedly asks deputies regularly where they went to school, appeared unimpressed by Armstrong’s dual major (economics and sociology) at Connecticut College. The two regularly faced off in debates over Google’s home page and search pages, according to a source, where there was a natural tension between the user experience (Mayer’s purview) and the monetization of that experience (Armstrong’s). While those kinds of fights resulted in successful programs such as Google AdWords, the two executives have, at best, been described by one source close to the situation as “friendly colleagues”—a euphemism in the tech world that often implies the exact opposite.

Oh, they loathe each other...Kewl.

So...that's out. And it looks like the nightmare of Yahoo's sale will never be over.

Happy Spring!

Now, who's going to tell that poor security guard that it's not just hedge fund guys who don't like his boss very much?

Yahoo’s $8 Billion Black Hole [Bloomberg]

Yahoo’s most vocal critic is now on its board [WaPo]

Marissa Mayer vs. Tim Armstrong: Does Verizon’s Interest in Yahoo All Come Down to an Old Google Standoff? [Vanity Fair]

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