“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.]

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