When major journals start to run these things:
Yahoo’s False Prophet: How Marissa Mayer Failed to Turn the Company Around
… then there really is trouble.
Marissa Mayer has sat behind the wheel at Yahoo for nearly four years. She has had the luxury of running one of the world’s most recognized internet brands, with a surging digital ad market, a cooperative board, a truckload of cash and 1 billion monthly visitors. And still she has failed to turn things around at the beleaguered company.
The woman is incompetent. Trouble is, every woman in that position is incompetent, including Meg Whitman but the latter at least has one thing going – maturity. She’s 60 years old.
It doesn’t in itself run a major firm but it is vital all the same. With men, the normal curve applies and there are only going to be maybe 7% of the population in the field who are good enough to take on that job.
With women, there are none. There are great CEOs of their own start-ups [let’s ignore Theranos for now and look more at Janet Tavakoli]. But large reputation organizations – hell, even Van Gaal found out how tough it was, as did Mourinho – require the very best and no women are the very best at this time. Maybe in another generation.
Part of the reason for that is that gender must be extracted from it but with women, and in particular pretty young women in charge, thee’s an obstacle before it even begins.
Add to that the song and dance as firms try to score PC points for appointing a woman, any woman, and there’s the second strike.
Then there are core perceptions and not only men are to blame here. There’s precious little love woman on woman.
In Mayer’s case, there are not just the Yahoo issues themselves, nor the initial mistakes in her first big job, nor even the internal resentment – there are very Mayer character specific things – things only Mayer would have done.
Mayer’s interest in beefing up search, according to this source, is because “she has a real chip on her shoulder about getting thrown out of search” at Google.
Cut her some slack here as every CEO has his pet beefs but she combines hers with a very female syndrome – she does not know when to let it go, to shut it. This really is a female thing in business at this level. It’s immaturity like a suit worn into every board meeting.
There’s baggage all over the place and the knives are always out for people such as her very early.
A failing company anyway
They did it with HP, they did it with many big firms – bossmen can’t turn it round, so they think why not give the lass her chance.
She has been largely protected from Wall Street’s wrath by the surge in value from Yahoo’s Alibaba Group holdings (although she had nothing to do with those gains). But as Yahoo’s finances have continued to deteriorate, it has become apparent that Mayer has wasted time and money with a lack of cohesive vision and a mercurial micromanagement style that paralyzed growth opportunities, according to former employees and industry execs.
People always revert to instinct
In private life, women are always onwards and upwards, men are happy to be in a “state of having the woman”. In business, it’s the opposite – there’s constant war, constant points scoring, constant new moves needing to be made, the Steve Jobs vision.
A woman does not have this wherewithal. She can be a first class administrator and I’d only want a woman handling something already set up, with a bit of room to move but fairly set standing orders. But an administrator in this sense is not a manager. I’ve said this for years.
Not unless she started up the organization herself decades earlier. I’ve seen two schools like this, where the woman was on top of things completely. I’ve seen firms with a product on which she was an expert – that’s different to Mayer coming in cold to Yahoo.
The fear of not being taken seriously
With everyone it’s so to a point. The man primarily, not as a man but as a CEO, fears his decision will go pear-shaped.
So does the woman but she has an added destructive trait – the silently determined “I’m as good as any one else” syndrome and that can lead her to eschew expert advice, fear delegation, fear someone else will be the golden boy/girl.
She also runs with the infamous “women’s intuition” she’s been convinced women actually have. That was precisely how Jodi Farhat operated in charge of the Missouri Corps of Engineers, ignoring her line managers and highly placed people. Mayer has done similar:
“She believes she can figure it out on her own,” says a former top Yahoo exec. “Her attitude is, ‘I watch TV shows, so I know TV shows.’” Mayer hired Katie Couric — in a deal reportedly worth up to $10 million per year, mostly in stock — because she personally likes the former TV news personality, without a sense of where and how Couric’s brand would appeal to Yahoo’s user base, according to this source.
There’s always a certain degree of playacting going on – she’s playing at being the big CEO, as she did playing Nurses as a girl.
Once it starts, it’s almost impossible to reverse
This is where she finds herself. Even were she to settle down, stop with the womanly traits and become a good CEO, start to look ugly instead of a fresh-faced girl, it’s too late at Yahoo, just as it was for Van Gaal at Man U.