New CEO plans to motivate Yahoo! employees

Marissa Mayer at a speaking event in New York City on May 24, 2011. It's a hint for one of the answers in today's Silicon Tally quiz!

Yahoo!'s new CEO Marissa Mayer reportedly plans to brief workers today on her strategy to spur new growth at the Internet giant, but some changes have already emerged: Yahoo! employees are all getting free smartphones, along with free meals at work.

The tech world has been serving up those kinds of perks since the dawn of dot-com, and analysts say Yahoo! is just catching up with its rivals.

Ron Josey watches Yahoo! for Think Equity, and says the company's new chief is trying to reinvigorate a staff that's seen a long line of CEOs come and go.

"These are small gestures towards a larger end of turning a company around," says Josey. "If it can attract improved talent or retain their talent, you know, I think that's money well spent." Josey sees the perks as "almost a necessity" for Yahoo! to stay competitive.

At All Things Digital, however, Kara Swisher isn't so sure. She's been covering Yahoo! since the mid-1990s. Although she says it's probably a good move for Yahoo!'s new boss, she adds that Mayer's challenges run deeper. "The real point is to create a company where people feel that it's moving forward and it's growing," Swisher says. "They're not attracted to free food, they're attracted to the ability to create products that millions and millions of consumers use."

In other words, motivate your staff and you'll have what it takes to eat your competitors' lunch.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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