Two months after she came through the revolving door into the executive suite at Yahoo!, Marissa Mayer is set to lay out her strategy for the company’s future. The new CEO is aiming to jump-start growth at the Internet giant, and reportedly plans to meet with employees Tuesday to unveil her plan.
Mayer came to Yahoo! from Google, bearing the burden of finally being the one to offer something different, after a long line of come-and-go CEOs. She made her mark at Google designing its home page, with a focus on making it easy to use. Now, she’s reportedly keen on improving the look of Yahoo!’s home page — but it’s not likely she’ll just mimic her style at Google.
“Google’s a whole different story of … simplicity,” says All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher, who’s been covering Yahoo! since the mid-1990s. Swisher says the new CEO needs to get visitors to click through to Yahoo!’s wide variety of content. As Swisher explains it, “Yahoo! has to pack a lot of information on that page to get people moving places.”
Yahoo! has become more of a content provider and less of a search destination. Although it still makes money selling ads next to search results, it actually gets those results from Microsoft’s search engine, Bing. Danny Sullivan, who watches the industry at SearchEngineLand.com, says that partnership has limited Yahoo!’s options, because it would be nearly impossible to go back to having their own search technology. “[T]hey would have to try to get back all sorts of employees and recover the technology,” Sullivan explains, “and it’s a huge task.”
The decision to dump its own search technology is just one of the existing strategies Mayer is now left to deal with. At Think Equity, analyst Ron Josey says he’s waited for years to see Yahoo!’s corporate leaders follow through, and he’s hopeful Mayer will do better than her predecessors. “[W]e are a little more optimistic in terms of what they could potentially do, but by no means is this an overnight fix,” he says. “This is something that likely will be a few years in the making.”
Its numbers may have stagnated, but it’s not like Yahoo! is in dire straits. With 700 million monthly users, it remains one of the Web’s most popular destinations.