Well, nobody saw that coming. In the sweepstakes to win the title of Yahoo CEO, the smart money seemed to be on the interim guy, Ross Levinsohn, who was handpicked by cranky shareholder Dan Loeb to replace Scott "I'm not really a computer engineer I just play one on my resume" Thompson. That seemed especially likely after Hulu Jefe Jason Kilar publicly bowed out of the race.
So the naming of Google uberstar Marissa Mayer surprised just about everyone. Even AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, who's been on the Yahoo story like the white on rice and claims to live in the air vent above the CEO's desk, didn't have a clue. It was a pleasant surprise, no doubt, to the thousands of Yahoo employees who've had nothing but bad news for as long as anyone can remember.
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But I'm not convinced that "won" is the right word here. It's a bit like taking over the helm on the Titanic after the iceberg has been struck and the lifeboats are in the water.
Though not Yahoo's first female CEO (that honor of course belonged to Carol "Pottymouth" Bartz), Mayer is the first one to a) have photo spreads in both Glamour and Vogue, and b) be pregnant -- which, if nothing else, provided an excellent cover story for explaining why she threw up immediately after looking at Yahoo's financials.
As Google Employee No. 20, Mayer is at least partly responsible for many of the search/ad giant's most notable features -- like Google's iconically simple search page, AdWords, the Google Doodle contest, Google News, and many more. If anyone could find the cure for Yahooliosis and restore the company's mojo, it's likely to be her.
That hasn't stopped the rest of Silicon Valley and the media from churning out terabytes of unsolicited advice. For example, former Yahoo engineer Sriram Krishnan serves up 10 tips for Mayer, including firing anyone who still uses a BlackBerry or has the word "architect" in their job title. My favorite:
Make a huge sign with the phrase "the premier digital media company." Then make a video of you running a bulldozer over it crushing that sign. No one knows what that phrase means. Come up with a goal that people can actually visualize and isn't meaningless corporate mumbo-jumbo. Here's a suggestion -- "A Yahoo app on every home screen."
Some unknown Webizen has already registered the site DearMarissaMayer.com just to share these five words of advice: "Please make Flickr awesome again."