Marissa Mayer as miracle worker? Yahoo sure hopes so

Yahoo's new CEO faces daunting task; to help her along, pundits are dishing out lots of unsolicited advice -- and snarky asides

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As if she were a contestant on "Jeopardy," Swisher posed her advice in the form of 10 questions, complete with catty commentary:

It is a very big job you have now, and in a very intense spotlight. While you have never been shy to be out there in the media, this new job is not the same thing as posing for a cute magazine cover and telling stories of your quirky work practices.

Swisher's other advice: Don't start wearing purple, it's not your color.

Forbes blogger and CEO of MyCorporation Deborah Sweeney has the same advice for being both a chief executive and a new mother: "Surround yourself with good people, eat well, and exercise."

Also: Make sure everyone flosses between meals, and don't let the software engineers drink those sugary sodas -- you know how cranky it makes them.

Netscape icon turned VC Marc Andreessen has some more down-to-earth advice for the new CEO: Cut 10,000 jobs. Immediately.

I would add: Afterward, be sure to hire someone to start your car for you each morning.

Me, I think Mayer is a bold and interesting choice for Yahoo. It makes sense because Yahoo needed to do something dramatic -- one more guy in a blue suit, a $200 haircut, and a Rolex isn't going to cut it. It also makes sense because Mayer is a geek, not a suit. To me this means Yahoo is going to stop trying to be a media company -- we have too many of those (are you listening, AOL?) -- and start making products again.

Yahoo's problem isn't that it sucks at what it does. It's problem is that it is, at best, second best at what it does. And the Internet does not reward companies that come in second. Yahoo needs to be the best at something; exactly what that something will be is the challenge facing Mayer & Co.

Word on the street is that beneath that Cover Girl look and sweet smile is a tough, take-no-prisoners executive who alienates as much as she inspires. In other words, she sounds a lot like Steve Jobs, who inherited an even worse scenario when he returned to Apple in 1997.

I'm not saying Mayer is the female equivalent of Jobs; it is much too soon to make that statement. But that is really the only thing that could save Yahoo.

What do you think Marissa Mayer should do to turn Yahoo around? Deposit your pearls of wisdom below or email me:

This article, "Marissa Mayer as miracle worker? Yahoo sure hopes so," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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