What happened when Marissa Mayer tried to be Steve Jobs

“Dynamic and wildly profitable Internet companies like Facebook and Google may get most of the attention, but Silicon Valley is littered with firms that just get by doing roughly the same thing year after year — has-beens like Ask.com, a search engine that no longer innovates but happily takes in $400 million in annual revenue, turning a profit in the process,” Nicholas Carlson reports for The New York Times.

“Mayer, who is 39, was hired to keep Yahoo from suffering this sort of fate. She believed it could again become a top-tier tech firm that enjoyed enormous growth and competed for top talent,” Carlson reports. “And two years in, Mayer, who has a tendency to compare herself with Steve Jobs, wasn’t about to abandon her turnaround plan. On the afternoon of Oct. 21, she entered a web TV studio on Yahoo’s garrisonlike campus to present the company’s latest quarterly results. Even though Yahoo’s revenue had decreased in five of the past six quarters, Mayer attested that she had ‘great confidence in the strength of our business.'”

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (photo by Brigitte Lacombe)
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (photo by Brigitte Lacombe)
“Turning around a technology company has been historically rare… Steve Jobs may have resurrected Apple, and IBM was able to reinvent itself from a P.C. company into a business-services firm. But the next best example is probably Jeffery Boyd’s deliverance of Priceline — not exactly a titan of the industry,” Carlson reports. “In order to revive Yahoo as a product company, Mayer would try to treat it as a giant start-up itself.”

“Aswath Damodaran, a professor at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, has long argued about the danger of companies that try to return to the growth stage of their life cycle. These technology companies, he said, are run by people afflicted with something he calls the Steve Jobs syndrome,” Carlson reports. “‘We have created an incentive structure where C.E.O.s want to be stars,’ Damodaran explained. ‘To be a star, you’ve got to be the next Steve Jobs — somebody who has actually grown a company to be a massive, large-market cap company.’ But, he went on, ‘it’s extremely dangerous at companies when you focus on the exception rather than the rule.’ He pointed out that ‘for every Apple, there are a hundred companies that tried to do what Apple did and fell flat on their faces.'”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: There was only one Steve Jobs and only he accomplished the unprecedented routinely.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David G.” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Steve Jobs’ revenge – April 12, 2013

51 Comments

    1. Musk is a “carnie” selling snake oil electric cars to people who have more money than economic sense. When he is selling more cars than one of the “big three”, then I’ll concede. However, I’ll likely be 6 feet under by then.

  1. “Mayer, who has a tendency to compare herself with Steve Jobs, ”

    Except for that little bit that Jobs was responsible for creating the personal computer revolution in addition to music and how we use the web. His and Woz’s patents speak to that.

            1. I know whut you mean. Just a terrible joke. Beauty + horrendous laff don’t mix. SNL did something similar like this with an over-sexy Kristen Wiig character who suddenly loudly farted and did repugnant things in front of 4 turned on then turned off guys, despite her overtly sexy desirability.

        1. I did. Most female CEO’s were dogs next to the Yahoo CEO Marissa. Obviously you didn’t or you might have unearthed another high ranking temptress. I’m sure these other women though have “wonderful personalities” and equally irritating laugh.

          1. And just for the sake of balance, male CEOs are largely repellant braggarts compensating for puerile phyical assets, incompetent as Caligula, exhibiting symptoms of dementia and megalomania, and relying on an entrenched ol’-boy network drenched in misogyny to prop them up until shareholders revolt and force them out.

    1. That red ball pic was taken in 2009 when she was featured as Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year. She was a VP at Google at the time.

      http://techcrunch.com/2009/11/06/marissa-mayer-gets-a-little-love-from-glamour-magazine/

      She wasn’t made CEO of Yahoo until 2012, 3 years later.

      If you have a problem with how “professional” the photo of a CEO is, take it up with MDN for choosing to keep using it. It’s not like MDN chooses the most professional photos available when Ballmer and Gates are featured here.

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