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Yahoo SEC Filing: Name change to Altaba Inc and director resignations (yahoo.net)
399 points by patmcguire 285 days ago | hide | past | web | 359 comments | favorite



For those confused, this filing is reporting a name change because the operating business (including its brand, domain name, etc.) is being acquired by Verizon out of what is now Yahoo! Inc. So the Yahoo business, its name, domains, and so on are not going anywhere as a result of this announcement. Altaba is just the name of of the company that will hold the investments that Verizon didn't acquire, including Alibaba shares.


Haha, Verizon owns America Online as well. Perhaps they're going to collect all relics of the 90's internet into some kind of Voltron monster.


I hope someone at Verizon cares about history and is preserving things for future museums.


Rather than the inevitable bashing of Marissa that will undoubtedly unfurl on this thread, I'd like to put in a little reminder that we usually celebrate taking on big projects and big risks and that we should commend her for taking on the immense challenge of steadying the Yahoo ship.

Yes, she wasn't able to keep the ship from sinking. But I do think she put in a good-faith effort.


Steve Jobs worked himself to the bone and took zero money for years when he was trying to save Apple. That's what a good faith effort looks like. If he had failed he would have wasted years and got nothing in return. If Mayer had done this I would be impressed. But Mayer had no vision, didn't put in the effort required, and milked Yahoo for a hundred million dollars she didn't earn. Silicon Valley loves failure like Elon Musk's rockets blowing up the first few times. But not this corrupt Wall Street-style failure. Marissa Mayer's failure at Yahoo was caused by pure incompetence, negligence, and laziness of all involved. Nothing about it that deserves praise.


"... milked Yahoo for a hundred million dollars she didn't earn."

"Marissa Mayer's failure at Yahoo was caused by pure incompetence, negligence, and laziness of all involved. Nothing about it that deserves praise."

I just wanted to thank you for this comment, because it is important that we get the facts straight. There was not one thing she brought in the company that showed a hint to financial success.

She is overrated at an almost fraudulent level.


> an almost fraudulent level

Fraud isn't a function of magnitude. A $2 fraud and $2 billion fraud are both fraud.

What matters is intent, the concealment of material facts and the victim's harm resulting from the foregoing.


Reading some other comments, I think the suggestion is that the overrating was fraudulent. In which case the price is a relevant factor. Mayer was worth some amount of money, a mild overestimate would be human error, but a massive overestimate would be evidence towards a fraud claim (in the sense that the error would demand explanation as unintentional). I don't endorse that on a Mayer-specific level, but I think it's the shape of the argument.

None of which disagrees with you, it's just an interesting note for assessing what a hypothetical fraudulent CEO appointment would look like. Presumably it would factor in price in the sense of "could a reasonable person assess the CEO's worth at this value?"


Appendum: When I said "She is overrated at an almost fraudulent level." I meant the she and other people from the board created an image of superiority around Meyer, that led to and justified a fantastic compensation plan. Then when you compare this fantasy image to her real accomplishments, the term "delusion" would not be wrong. And at a certain level of delusion, we can also name it fraud. Yes, I think this is fraud.


What facts are you referring to and what does overrated at a fraudulent level mean?


Basically she Trumped it or is Trump going to Mayerr it? (Promise bullish ideas and deliver high grade bullshit)

Sorry to drag in politics, but I could not resist this cheap-shot.


Not sure why a "good faith effort" requires taking such a crazy amount of personal risk. Yahoo was willing to pay millions to the exec they thought had the best chance to turn the company around. She should have declined that and and unnecessarily played on Extra Hard mode instead?


That's why the responsibility was on the board to find somebody willing and capable of playing Extra Hard.


Obviously if finding good CEOs who would work for free at failing companies was easy, all boards would do that.

Turns out it's not.


I'm trying to imagine Jobs taking a 'free' turnaround role somewhere other than Apple. That was a labor of love, but it's pretty hard to import talent on those grounds - particularly if no one has significant affection for your brand.

Part of the power of startups (and Apple) is that they get some economically-irrational commitments from people who care deeply about them, and it's pretty unfair to expect that for other organizations.


The money they paid out to Meyer was not a problem for yahoo, even from a opportunity cost perspective. Deciding to only pay someone willing to work for close to nothing would have been really foolish. Not sure what you are proposing other than like bringing back Jerry Yang.


Sorry, my comment was too short. I said nothing about money. I simply pointed out that they should have done more due diligence when choosing the CEO. (Based on what I read at the time though, sounds like they didn't even try -- they went for short-term gains based on her name recognition).


You don't think that a public CEO's incentives should be aligned with their shareholders?

That's the only way you can have real change, instead of the moral hazard situation we have now.


It's funny how many on the right (not you, mind you!) simultaneously hold that

- the rich are sensitive to incentives, and big option packages and low taxes are required to align them with the shareholder and make them work hard enough

- the rich are not sensitive to incentives, being so rich that they do not need any extra money, therefore are basically immune to corruption and not really in need of any legal oversight


Sure, in the form of stock, incentive bonuses, etc. Not the entire salary


Why not the entire salary? If you're already worth $100m, you're working for fun and prestige not because you need cash to pay your rent.

All the famous rich ceos have tiny salaries and make their money on capital gains. It's more tax efficient to boot!


You're worth $100m and are running in a crowd of high achievers worth a lot more, suddenly it doesn't feel like very much even when all of your basic needs are more than met.

The human condition is such that we want what we don't have and we can never have enough.


> If he had failed he would have wasted years and got nothing in return.

Steve Jobs' personal wealth is mainly from Pixar (acquired by Disney) and less from Apple, especially after SEC shut down the goldmine of backdated options http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2007/01/snow...


Yes, and he was already rich from previous money he made in Apple's early days. Just like Marissa Mayer was already rich from Google stock.

Neither needed the money at all. Jobs knew that and didn't take any. Mayer for some reason took as much as possible.


> "For some reason"

We don't need a narrative of sacrifice to glorify an exec with. She has a family, 100 different wealthy suitors if she were to look, and the board approved the compensation because they thought it was worth the risk of turning the company around. The reason was because she could and had to reason not to.


Jobs was paid in the form of the NeXT acquisition and the personal vindication of being brought back and turning things around. He was strongly personally invested.

Mayer was brought into a company in a death spiral, that she had no strong personal investment in, presumably knowing very well that odds of failure were great and will likely affect her future opportunities (I'm sure she'll do fine, but I'm sure she'd have done better if she'd gone to a big success)

How many people would take the Yahoo! CEO job without a significant risk premium over their market rate?


> for some reason

I know, crazy, like what kind of person would accept that kind of money if offered? It really boggles the mind. Hell, I was offered a raise recently, but I told them no way. I won't play that game!


Literally 3x what the average Fortune 500 CEO was paid.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2015/12/09/maris...


Don't blame Marissa for simply accepting what the CEO market was willing to pay her. You and I and every single human being would do no different in her shoes. If you have a problem with it, blame the market for poor judgement in capital allocation.


What? If you already have $100+ million in the bank it's a given you'd take a crap job just for more play money?

The whole point of FU money (which she already had) is you get to make big decisions, like what you're going to spend the next 5 years doing, without worrying about personal financial impact.


> Jobs knew that and didn't take any.

His total grants from 1997 and until death amounted to 5.5 mln AAPL shares (one would have to multiple this number by 7 to account for 2014 stock split).


right, they should pay Marissa with Yahoo (sorry, Altaba) stock. vesting in 3 years.


> Neither needed the money at all. Jobs knew that and didn't take any. Mayer for some reason took as much as possible.

Apple was a company that Jobs founded and got fired from. Coming back to "save" it would have been a very personal battle, and a way to prove people that fired him wrong.

Why on earth would anyone want to do the same at Yahoo for free (and tie their personal reputation to the success or failure), even if they didn't need the money?


As one of the founders, Jobs had an emotional investment in Apple you could never expect from an outsider brought in to helm a mature company.

The problem with Yahoo is nobody knows what the company does. I don't see how anybody could have turned what amounts to a couple popular news websites into something like Google or Apple without engaging in some kind of very-low-odds moon shot.

What they probably should have done was liquidated the company. The web sites would have fetched top dollar, and the company has technical expertise in business units that seem to be pretty much wasted at this point.


Difficult to say how much "good faith effort" she put in but nobody questions her commitment and work ethic. It's fairly well-documented, perhaps to a fault: http://www.redbookmag.com/life/money-career/a45516/marissa-m...

I am not suggesting that working long hours, even as CEO, is necessary or even good for success but I, for one, would definitely not assume Mayer isn't really trying to do a show of good faith, regardless of how much money Yahoo and its board agreed to pay her.


Steve Jobs was paid in stocks. A lot.


If she had been willing to be paid that heavily in stock she would be looked at very differently.


I agree. Skin in the game.


I think there is absolutely no indication that anybody, other than Jesus Christ himself descending from the skies mounted on a Harley Davidson in flames, could have saved Yahoo.

So, bashing Marissa here would be really, really pointless and sad.


I don't think that is true. In 2012 Yahoo had $5B a year in revenue and was the second most visited property on the web.

When Thompson stepped down the board were given two proposals. The first, revive Yahoo as a premium tech firm lead by someone like Mayer, or 2. admit that Yahoo is now a media co and double down on the verticals where Yahoo is winning - especially those where you can sell premium ads (Finance, Sport)

The board had delusions of grandeur and saw Yahoo's as still being on the same level as Google rather than taking the safer bet and building out the media company.

Being a media company isn't as interesting - but there are a lot of public, medium sized tech media co's out there who get along just fine (and some even have an innovative breakthrough every now and then - like IAC) - and Yahoo, with the later plan, would have been the best of this bunch.


The problem is that Yahoo was never a media company, either. They never had a lot of success in media, at least not past their early properties like Finance and Autos. They failed to do anything meaningful with video, or mobile, or flickr, or much of anything past their early success.

Yahoo tried to be a media company for years. They called themselves "the premier media company". They had two different CEOs pulled from the media world, Terry Semel and Ross Levinsohn. Levinsohn didn't really have much time, but Semel did. If Yahoo was a media company, they were unsuccessful at it.

I always wanted Yahoo to rebound. I worked there for a few years and my team seemed quite good. But there was always the problem that the company didn't quite seem to know what it was trying to do. It didn't have a real plan for winning back search nor for winning in media, and it didn't have deep enough pockets to dig indefinitely. What it had were initiatives like Livestand that failed to compete with apps like Flipboard and an ad network that never competed with AdSense despite Yahoo actually buying Overture.


"Jack of all trades, master of none" is probably not a good way to increase share holder value.


Full quote: "...but often times better than a master of one"


That's a modern addition.


how is Yahoo News not considered successful? Sure its a lot of AP aggregation, but most importantly, people were clicking it.


"They never had a lot of success in media, at least not past their early properties like Finance and Autos."

News was launched in 1996, roughly a year after Yahoo became Yahoo and only four months after the IPO. News is most definitely an early success.

Yahoo's problem (or one of them) is that they've failed to have any significant new successes in well over a decade (that I can recall at least). The best they've done is maintain their early wins, but those have been eroded, as they completely lost search and mail to Google, much of the news/finance/autos/sports traffic to dozens of competitors, etc.


There isn't much money in news content, at least by internet giant metrics, so I think its success is somewhat irrelevant.


I was surprised to learn at a conference in October that America Online still exists(!), and this (media) is the route that they took. Apparently they own the Huffington Post and Engadget now.


AOL was acquired by Verizon, so in a sense they still exist, but in another sense not. They did own/operate HuffPo, Engadget, and other properties for some time prior to the Verizon acquisition.


Yahoo is more or less going to be folded into aol, actually.


I also heard the recent AOL layoffs had much to do with duplicate positions at Yahoo and that Yahoo will fall under the AOL umbrella.


They even own Techcrunch, which appears regularly on here


AOL also chased local media with Patch.com and failed miserably.


I'd rather have a failed high tech enterprise than owning huffpo and Engadget.


I know you are being glib, but I'd rather survive and live to fight another day. A company with resources can invest, grow, and contribute.


and all blogs they own turned into turdballs


I agree with you, and would like to add that Yahoo was in denial of who it was and what strengths it had.

Still however, comparing it to a company like IAC is quite insulting. Yahoo was something more, it was a chance for a media company to rule the internet once again. It was how tech did media.


there is a middle ground too. Two of the verticals Yahoo doesnt experience a lot of competition in are Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Fantasy Sports. (edit: rereading your comment, I see you mentioned the exact same thing and I skimmed over it.) And then there is a squandered userbase of Yahoo Messengers that were left to dry.

If I were Yahoo CEO, and the company had chosen the media empire route, I would have explored a Yahoo Finance 2.0 as a social network. Step one, acquire or clone OpenFolio and Robinhood and maybe buy something like SumZero for its social graph slash userbase. Create a Free and Pro tier. Other companies I have mentioned before as a good fit in this idea are Forcerank and Sparkfin. Motif is another company trying to make stock picking more social. Having a unified messaging layer across the bottom of ALL its properties (like Facebook) would have benefited here too.

Yahoo should have made a push to be THE fantasy company, instead of covering its product in daily fantasy ads, trying to squeeze out the last of the value. Sports is a huge vertical other tech giants like Google and Microsoft and Apple dont play much in. Being cash rich, they could have bought one of the major Daily Fantasy empires, which basically print money. I cant think of many better easy ways to return shareholder value. Again, a messenger bar at the bottom of the screen would have really tied the place together.

Now if I want to talk with my group of friends about my fantasy picks or my stock picks (or my fantasy stock picks in the case of Forcerank) my group conversations carry over between properties. The thing about Finance and Fantasy is they both involve an element of competitive "I know more than you and can make better predictive decisions." Stock Picking and Fantasy Drafting slash Lineup Setting are more closely related mental tasks than they are given credit for. Both are pleasurable when you are right.

I think its odd to say Yahoo went the tech route, because outside her acquisitions, it does seem they doubled down on the editorial media vertical side (tv shows, news anchors, major tech journalists) without creating any sort of modern cms, without actually introducing ANY tech innovation in house.

They also scrapped Yahoo Voices, right as Medium and Kinja and Chorus and Wordpress forged a new era of blogging. Ive said before, Atavist would have been a great fit in their tech/media empire niche. After buying the tech, they should have acquired some really popular high quality independent blogs/bloggers.


I'm reminded of Second Life, where a vital arts colony turned into a gambling and pornography den. Its kind of like how depressed town centers turn into just antique shops and hair stylists - its the lowest form of life, turned to when everything else is gone.

So yeah, Yahoo could have given up and become a gambling site only.


>antique shops and hair stylists

click bait and content mills/farms?


this is sad tho in some fields yahoo contributions where huge even as of today just look the research they published and contributed to in the machine learning field. this is definitely premium tech firm level


Bashing her may also be naive. She may not have been hired to "save Yahoo!". She may have been hired to make a lot of money for Dan Loeb's hedge fund, and succeeded at that, if you believe the telling in this piece: http://www.businessinsider.com.au/marissa-mayer-biography-20...

Summary:

- Loeb decides he can make a bunch of money if he can invest in Yahoo!, clean out the board, and get a more compelling CEO in charge.

- Loeb buys 5% of Yahoo! (presumably at a price in the mid-teens) and starts a campaign.

- Loeb ousts then-CEO Thompson and recruits Marissa Meyer from Google to take the CEO job. She is announced in July 2012 to massive fanfare and media attention.

- Yahoo!'s stock rises to $28 or so over the next year. Seeing as how they shipped no new products of note during that time, it's fair to assume this was largely due to Meyer joining the company. In July 2013, Loeb sells off most of his holdings and is removed from the board.

Given this, it seems unfair to bash Meyer for not saving Yahoo!. She was never hired to do that. She was hired to make money for Dan Loeb and did a great job. All the handwringing about "saving Yahoo!" is a fake narrative foisted on the public by the tech press and Yahoo!'s PR people.

Once a company becomes a zombie, there's generally no saving it. If you can get enough people to believe it might happen though, you can make some money.

Also: This reading helps make sense of some of the other weirdness around Meyer's tenure. Why did Henrique De Castro get such a rich contract? Why did Meyer? Perhaps in part because some of the people negotiating those deals (Loeb and Wolf, ex president of MTV hired by Loeb to help with the Yahoo! affair) knew they'd be gone in a year and didn't care about the fallout.


Loeb's thesis was simple - that Yahoo is worth a lot more as the sum of its parts as it was a combined entity. He was right - there were long periods of time where Yahoo on its own had a negative value.

The stock price was largely driven by Alibaba - hence why attributing stock growth to Mayer's appointment was misplaced.

The idea was that you sell off the BABA holding, distribute that to investors and then you end up with Yahoo on it's own which is then pivoted to being a tech company (higher PE's) rather than a boring media company.

Mayer ended up becoming far from the ideal hedge fund CEO. She kept more of the BABA sales for acquisitions than the activists wanted, she spent hundreds of millions on silly recruiting like Henrique De Castro and then spent $2.5B+ on 50+ acquisitions - all of which didn't move the needle and ended up being written down to near-zero.

That's a lot to spend for a company that had a negative value - and Mayer hastened / worsened the situation (hence why Loeb got the hell out of there when offered $29 by Mayer)


This is a more thoughtful read on the situation than what I wrote. Thanks.


I like your narrative and Dan Loeb should certainly send Mayer a Christmas card. Still, if indeed she was hired to make money for Dan Loeb then that does not speak any better to her managerial competence.


> bashing Marissa here would be really, really pointless and sad.

She took on the job, promised results, and demanded (and got) enormous compensation. Part and parcel of that is accepting responsibility for failure.

Keep in mind that if she had turned Yahoo around, she would have gotten the credit.


Walter exactly right. Not even Marissa feels sorry for Marissa given the payout she has received. A couple of hundred million dollars heals a lot of hurt feeelings.


Why'd she do it then? Got paid a lot, that's for damn sure. $219M over 4 years.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/07/25/technology/marissa-mayer-pay...


Everyone loves a good turnaround story versus slow-death story. As Google's 20th employee she was already approaching the tres commas league.

Remember when she was confirmed as a hire, the feeling around the Valley was less of "wow, a new CEO" and more of "how did someone like Yahoo get someone like Marissa". The previous CEOs include alumni from PayPal and AutoDesk, so getting someone as successful was a win for Yahoo at the time.


> more of "how did someone like Yahoo get someone like Marissa".

Not me. My comment at the time was "Fiorina 2.0", a mediocre mid level got lucky.


I think your factual comment would not be popular then. I thought along the line that clever Google got rid of her without sacking or asked to go.


> The previous CEOs include alumni from PayPal and AutoDesk

I don't know whether that sentence is supposed to imply innovation (PayPal) or stagnation (AutoDesk).


For sure. For perspective, that's around 2000X more than an average tech salary in Silicon Valley. I'd be thrilled to [Not Turn Around Yahoo] for that much money. Hell, I could have done it for a fraction of the cost!


Did you add an extra 0? The average programmer salary is around $27,000 per year in Silicon Valley?


I suspect they simply didn't divide by four as you have...


You're right. Divide by four, so 500X instead of 2000X. Much more reasonable.


If that's really the case then Silicon Valley salaries have gone through the floor recently. That would be considered an insulting salary for a developer in London, in GBP.


If you search for web designer jobs in the UK on Indeed, most jobs are in the £25k to £30k range, with a slightly smaller selection between £30k and £35k.

London may be in a class of its own, but elsewhere in the UK £35k is considered decent money.

https://www.indeed.co.uk/jobs?q=Web+Design&l=


Don't disagree about £35k being decent in the UK - easy to take for granted how well paid the tech industry is.

That said, a "Web designer" role and a "Developer" role are two completely different things. £35k is about right for a decent web designer salary; but for a developer, that's more of junior to mid-level role, even outside of London.

Compare http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/default.aspx?q=developer&l=&id=... and http://www.itjobswatch.co.uk/default.aspx?q=web+designer&l=&...


(Good) developer jobs tend not to make it job sites like Indeed. I'd expect a developer job somewhere other than a small agency to be starting at ~£30k anywhere in the country, and £35k in London. In London a half-decent developer can make ~£50k easily, and much more than that if they're good, or willing to do contract work.


Development isn't design.


Would you have refused such pay if you were in her position?


Of course not, but then when I failed which would have been pre-ordained and actually entirely foreseeable, bashing me here would NOT be really, really pointless and sad. However, if you are respecting her for picking up a paycheck, that is your right.


I'm not "respecting" her; I'm just pointing out that the high pay is not as black and white as it was made out to be.


eh?


I think it's pointless and sad to bash her because, once again, I don't think it can reasonably be said that somebody else had the expertise to save Yahoo. We'll never know, of course.

Also, being the CEO of an "old and out of touch" company with services that only grannies use nowadays leaves you open to lots of undeserved bashing. So bashing her is easy. But she should be bashed if she was a bad CEO (which she wasn't, I think) or if somebody else would've done better than her (a person that most probably doesn't exist). So there's that.

(Yes, most of my comment was facetious. Don't take it literally)


Take a look at what Meyers did at Yahoo:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Yahoo!#Marissa_Maye...

Basically, Yahoo has had exactly two successes: its investment in Google signed in 2001 when Yahoo used Google's search results and Jerry Yang's heroic investment in Alibaba. Everything Meyers did was simply spending that money.

It's easy to spend money, especially when you have a lot and you are getting paid bank.


This "bashing" seems to be an attempt to deflect any and all criticism of her countless mistakes at Yahoo! - not least of which was that they helped leak vast swathes of personal data due to their CEO's reckless indifference to security.


>Also, being the CEO of an "old and out of touch" company with services that only grannies use nowadays leaves you open to lots of undeserved bashing.

So are CEOs responsible for the company or not?

Because HackerNews seems to want bank executives to go to prison for actions taken by the company and its employees. However, we don't want to even hold a tech CEO accountable for the financial results of the company because the culture is "stodgy"? One of the CEO's jobs is to change the culture.


>Also, being the CEO of an "old and out of touch" company with services that only grannies use nowadays

Yahoo owns both Flickr and Tumblr which are both popular with younger crowd.


The point is that where there is a great paycheck there is great responsibility, to paraphrase Churchill.


Only if there's a performance clause in the contract.


Where can I sign up for a job making 7 figures with no "performance clause?" Even better, she probably had something like a "no downside performance clause," but would still receive lavish bonuses for any upside.

Whatever. Yahoo was already going down, and she just looted it for an order of magnitude more than "f-you money" on its way down, without much steepening its decline. Things end as they always would have, and Mayer retires to the island she just bought.


Well I work for a company where C level execs have 100m+ contracts and they are behaving in exceptionally bad ways. Also Dir/Sr Dir level may have around 1m+ contracts and they seem quite indifferent to project health. At this point I guess they think reward is enough for indifference or non-performance.


I don't think that's enough to bash someone. She gave it a good shot, I don't think anyone could've done better.


This is not a convincing argument. The odds are certainly against Yahoo, and the promise of MM was it will turn Yahoo into a Engineering powerhouse, which never happened. On top of that the Yahoo hack handling was not leadership.

She tried, well but her Participation Trophy was worth $300 million including Golden Parachute. That is a grave sign!


You're looking at this backwards.

Yahoo was dying. They were dying no matter who was at the head. And whoever was holding the reins when Yahoo went down would get to be known as the person who killed Yahoo with the appropriate reputation hit. They might never work again, almost certainly never be the CEO of any significant company.

Meanwhile the board needs a big name at the helm. Someone to goose the stock price at the end, someone to guide the company on a smooth glide back down. Someone to take the blame. If the board doesn't get someone big and credible, they lose money, they take the blame.

Marissa Mayer didn't get paid $300 million despite presiding over a sinking ship. She got $300 million to preside over a sinking ship. That was the price of her reputation as a CEO.


> Yahoo was dying.

Yahoo was dying when I was there in 2005-6 - the internal political structure, in-fighting, and general disdain from the US for anything not made there was terrifying.

But with billions of dollars propping it up, it takes a long time for a corpse to actually fall over.


> absolutely no indication that anybody, other than Jesus Christ himself descending from the skies mounted on a Harley Davidson in flames, could have saved Yahoo.

I mean, Yahoo has essentially failed so there is no way to validate your or my claims, but I disagree very much with this. If Yahoo had focused on its core strengths versus its flipping and flopping between becoming a media company or not, I think it could have become great. They also lost quite a bit of their best talent due to policy changes, work changes, etc.

Honestly I still think there are ways to turn the ship around. It may never become as big as it was before but I see no reason it can't become profitable and stick around for a long time.


> focused on its core strengths

What are Yahoo's core strengths? Near as I can tell, its core strength is possession of heaps of Alibaba stock. What core pieces of Yahoo, aside from its Alibaba and Yahoo Japan stock, could be focused on in a way that would make it meaningful as a multi-billion dollar company?


- It's still #5 in the Alexa website ranks. That's HUGE. Huge huge huge.

- Trumblr is still huge (arguably mismanaged but still huge)

- Their fantasy football is the largest in the world as far as I can tell. Huge user base.

- Yahoo mail is also huge.

Their core strength is their hugely popular front page and their web applications. Sorta similar to Google in a way. Or even Microsoft and some of its properties. Arguably they could focus on these web products and continue making cash though they'd likely need to downsize a bit.


What were Yahoo's core strengths that MM should have focused on?


Webapps, in my opinion. See: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13403404


She was paid to succeed and paid excessively on any level. Why should we not hold stars in the tech industry to higher standards. Why should we not vilify them like any other CEO presiding over a failing or failed company which sheds thousands if not tens of thousands of employees? She is the quintessential example of the CEO type many dislike. Overpaid, doesn't deliver, and walks off with money in the bank.


>So, bashing Marissa here would be really, really pointless and sad

If this was actually evident, what's the point of hiring her for the position with huge compensation? What's the point of taking the job, and why should that decision deserve praise? It sounds to me like she accepted an impossible task for tons of money. That isn't impressive.


I think back to Gillard and Australia. I liked her as a PM and felt that the reason she didn't make it is she simply wasn't heartless and evil enough to fight in that chaotic, insane and corrupt political environment. Abbott was and Rudd..ugh..something something party implosion; whatever.

It has nothing to do with her being a women. There just aren't many people who can put up with that endless rubbish.

With Yahoo, you have to give her credit. She has been there for a while and has attempted quite a bit. Saving Yahoo was going to be a totally chance attempt, as its competitors are crushing it in ... everything. From the surface it looked like she was in a better environment overall as well (compared to my Aussie politics stretching example anyway).

I think a company like Yahoo could have, and may still turn itself around. AOL did, mostly by investing itself in news and editorial sites. Maybe Verizon will be able to do something with their data, customers and brand -- and maybe like AOL we won't even realize they're the company owning the articles we're reading or the services we're using.


> she simply wasn't heartless and evil enough to fight in that chaotic, insane and corrupt political environment

What are you talking about? She managed to make enough backroom deals to oust a standing Prime Minister. That's pretty strong evidence that she is Machiavellian enough to play the game of politics.


> I liked her as a PM and felt that the reason she didn't make it is she simply wasn't heartless and evil enough to fight in that chaotic, insane and corrupt political environment.

She became PM by playing that game. Her public persona was ruined because she played it too publicly and she should be held responsible for starting a decade long period of political instability.


Can you elaborate or provide a reference of how she caused political instability? I can't seem to find anything about it from Google.


She ousted a sitting first term PM through backroom deals to make herself PM. This kicked off a decade where the Prime Ministers office had to get a revolving door installed.


facepalm this whole time I thought we were talking about Marissa Mayer, and that PM was referring to project manager or something.


I don't blame you. In Australia we have had a marathon run of the most monumental moments of bastardry, incompetence, bigotry and squandering of opportunities. I mean, this inevitably happens at the best of times but we got Rudd (who was, for his flaws, quite visionary), then Gillard who ousted him because of the negativity of Tony Abbott. Then we got Tony Abbott because of the way Gillard and co. shafted Rudd. Abbott, it turns out, was more arrogant, had less ability to govern, showed what those who watched him over the years already knew: he has terrible judgement, and thus led the least successful government of any era in Australia and lasted less time in the job than either Gillard or Rudd before Turnbull (who Abbott had actually ousted when in opposition) ousted him.

The Turnbull government has no chance of doing anything other than warm the seats for the next bunch.

So I sort of wish this was only Yahoo we were speaking about, but it's not: it's Australia's Federal Government and every Australian is currently looking into the abyss as the likes of Brandis, Dutton, Morrison, Barnaby Joyce, George Christianson and Eric Abetz destroy our society and economy for their own personal agendas.


As a backstabber she beget more backstabbing. I think you need to assign a little more blame for the political instability in Australia to her.


> I think back to Gillard and Australia. I liked her as a PM

You need to watch this three-part documentary to better understand how she came to power: http://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/killing-season/


I don't think that's JC but rather Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider you're thinking of.


What exactly do you want to accomplish with this comment?

Are you really suggesting that we shouldn't analyze and criticize Marissa for failing? Why is it important to you to create a safe space for this CEO? This CEO had a very self-confident attitude but in the end got nothing right. There were no signs progress and development with her and the company. She showed no intrinsic focus and absolutely no creativity.

And what are this big risks you are talking about? "we usually celebrate taking on big projects and big risks ..."

All I know is that she got a compensation plan in 2012 for about 120 mio. dollars. If you play in this league you dont get points for "good-faith". Why gets someone who failed such a high compensation and why should it be wrong to criticize and even bash such a person?


I can answer that: because she's a woman. That's the ugly truth behind the rabid defense of Marissa. Because she joins a long line of failed female CEOs and the mere recognition of this fact sends certain people into a frenzy, so just deny, deny, deny.

I fully expect to be repudiated as a misogynist by a tidal wave of people drunk off this cognitive dissonance, but I simply speak the truth. Marissa was an abysmal CEO, and for years people will try to whitewash that to avoid its ugly stain on female professionals.


She also joins a line of failed CEOs at Yahoo.

Trying to tie this to her gender would require a lot of evidence to be remotly meaningful. Yahoo has been failing for a decade and a half, largely punctuated by a couple of lucky investments (Google and Alibaba).

I also see little evidence of rabid defenses of her. I see some that don't believe she deserves to be crucified for failing to save a company that's been failing for a long time before she joined, and a lot of rabid attacks on her with little substantive.


Here's the thing: If Yahoo was in such dire shape that it couldn't be saved (that seems to be the consensus), it should have been scrapped and sold for parts to maximize shareholder value.

Instead Marissa squandered hundreds of millions of dollars on random acquisitions and Katie Couric. In my mind there is nothing noble or defensible about coming into a dire situation, throwing a Hail Mary and then shrugging when it doesn't work.


> it should have been scrapped and sold for parts to maximize shareholder value.

This is arguably true, but the board decided otherwise, and the board represents the shareholders.


The board hired her presumably believing that there was some non-zero chance that she would manage to turn Yahoo around, just as it has done with a string of past CEO's. Presumably they also surmised that even if she didn't, shareholders would come out of it ok.

And lo and behold: When she joined the share price was below $16. It's now above $42. A lot of that (maybe all?) is the Alibaba holding, but the point is that whether not Mayer did a good job or not, Yahoo! as a whole is still worth a lot more today.

But presumably this is part of the reason they took the risk: Yahoo!'s core businesses were valued extremely low - the total value of the business is tied up in the Alibaba holding. As such spending hundreds of millions to try to turn things around meant betting with a miniscule proportion of the value of the company with a potential for huge payoff if it succeeded, and very little downside.

In retrospect its easy to say she didn't achieve what they hoped. But it's not so easy to say the alternatives would've been better.

I'm sure she did stupid acquisitions. I'm also sure most of Yahoo's CEO's have done plenty of stupid acquisitions. I'm equally sure Yahoo's board signed of on all of them.

The point isn't that she has no blame. The point is that she is par for the course for Yahoo, and there's little indication someone else would have achieved better results.


I think there should be more female CEOs. But if they are overbearing and underdelivering we should be allowed to talk about that with no restrictions.


I'm not going to repudiate you as a misogynist because I think some of what you're saying has merit. And I don't believe you're saying it because you think females make bad CEOs.

But I'd hardly call my comment a "rabid defense" of Marissa. I was attempting to set a balanced tone for this discussion. I readily agree that she failed to prevent Yahoo from failing.

The reality that you yourself need to confront is that there are way more people who will shrilly call her "an abysmal CEO" without really weighing the facts.


Rabid defense of Marissa? You and I must have different Internets.


> Because she joins a long line of failed female CEOs

I wonder: how many appointed CEOs, as opposed to founders, succeed? And how many of them them are appointed to floundering companies, versus say the transition that happened at Microsoft and/or Google? Heck, even Ballmer was a disaster.

How much of the history of failed female CEOs is likely because they get much, much less of the Bezos/Brin/Page/Gates initial growth, I am unsure, but I'd be interested to know.


> What exactly do you want to accomplish with this comment?

Reduction in unsubstantiated nasty comments. A better conversation.

> Are you really suggesting that we shouldn't analyze and criticize Marissa for failing?

No, I'm not suggesting that.

> Why is it important to you to create a safe space for this CEO?

I'm not.

> And what are this big risks you are talking about?

Attempting to save a company that appeared at the time to be completely unsaveable.

> If you play in this league you dont get points for "good-faith".

Why not? What's different about that league compared to the one you and I play in?


> Reduction in unsubstantiated nasty comments. A better conversation.

At the time you wrote this, there where zero nasty comments. Not even substantiated ones.

> Attempting to save a company that appeared at the time to be completely unsaveable.

Why do make that claim? This and similar is repeated here often: "A sinking ship", "Could not be saved even by Jesus", ... This is completely wrong! Either a company is beyond repair, then no respectable CEO would play the hero here. Or it shows potential for some kind of transformation process, where the company can find a new and successful purpose. In both cases the company is in a fragile state, because it is very hard to measure its true value. It's in a situation that is opposite to a very promising company: there is a chance that this company is underhyped. Yahoo was underhyped and underestimated, probably also by Marissa Meyer.

> Why not? What's different about that league compared to the one you and I play in?

Let me use an analogy here: When you and I are football players, then Marissa would have been our trainer. The problem is that the compensation plan made her also some kind of a Ronaldo.


You would be right about what to do with a struggling company if you had perfect information. However most of the time a board is not working with perfect information and must make a judgement call. Pretending after the fact that they could have known how this would play out is ignoring that. It's an easy decision to criticize in hindsight after the fact. Much harder to get right in the moment.


She was very well compensated for her time sinking Yahoo. I think this kind of tone policing is unhealthy.


Upvoted since I think this discussion might be interesting.

I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much? Why does how much someone was paid justify more or less bashing, as the case might be?

And what's unhealthy about tone policing? I'll leave aside the way you've negatively framed my attempt to steer the conversation in a more positive direction, and just say that I don't see what the purpose of publicly bashing a well-compensated CEO who didn't have much success is.

Who is this unhealthy for? For her? For us? For future boards of directors who may be trying to attract a CEO to turn their company around?


> I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much? Why does how much someone was paid justify more or less bashing, as the case might be?

To me it's because she wasn't taking a risk, she was getting paid massive amounts regardless of what she did. Why celebrate someone who enriched herself as the company imploded and had to lay off thousands of people? There are so many other people worth accolades.


She never has to work a day in her life after disrupting the lives of thousands of her employees while failing to accomplish any of her objectives.

She had all risk removed when they hired her.


Are you so confident in knowing what her objectives were that you can make that statement? For all we know the board wanted to maximize value on the way down.


> And what's unhealthy about tone policing?

It silences discussion by subtly and indirectly labeling any critics as bad guys.

Not all tone policing is bad, HN is the king of good tone policing, I don't think this makes it.

For example, I like your non-tone related points, and I'm glad they were able to come out!


>I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much? Why does how much someone was paid justify more or less bashing, as the case might be?

It's simply the issue of gratuitous executive pay. If her pay hadn't been >>100x what a typical SV worker makes I think she'd get significantly less flak. The idea of someone being granted enough money so their great-grandchildren never have to work a day when that person did a poor job after only 4 years on the job just makes people sick. Don't forget some bad stuff happened on Mayer's watch; like 1B user accounts being compromised.


> I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much? Why does how much someone was paid justify more or less bashing, as the case might be?

The payment and bashing might be slightly related, but I tend to think it's a minor factor. People focus on financials so much because that's what the western culture is built upon. The American Dream, if you will. However bashing, complimenting, or mentioning someone at all comes with fame. I'm fairly certain people would talk a lot about Marissa Mayer regardless of whether she got paid anything. The ratio of criticism-to-compliments tends to go hand-in-hand with the person's perceived success-to-failure ratio. Marissa Mayer wasn't that successful, and thus she'll mostly get criticism.


> The ratio of criticism-to-compliments tends to go hand-in-hand with the person's perceived success-to-failure ratio.

Intuitively this seems accurate. Wondering if you know of actual research regarding this though?

To add to that, I think people have a hard time assessing relative success. Imagine being dropped in as the captain of the Titanic after it's hit the iceberg. If you manage to delay the sinking for an extra hour, which allows more people to escape, you are successful even if most people do drown. You're successful relative to some expected value. But drive-by armchair analysts will just see that the ship sunk and a bunch of people died and blame you.

Obviously this situation is much more complicated, since opinions will differ about whether Yahoo was in fact inevitably sinking, or whether a different captain could have helped it survive.


I think the comment you're responding to is suggesting that though giving someone (Mayer) the benefit of the doubt might be humane, it may not be, strictly speaking, rationally appropriate.

I believe the financial compensation angle is that because she was particularly well compensated, she is perceived to not have much skin in the game. As an aside, I don't think this is especially productive because it is incredibly rare to find someone running a company who isn't deeply emotionally invested in that enterprise, but the perception remains.

Obviously, though the crowd wants to excoriate Mayer I think if folks have a problem with her compensation they should look to the board.


> I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much? Why does how much someone was paid justify more or less bashing, as the case might be?

Because it reveals the tenuous relationship between executive pay and company results, and people prefer to take it out on the obvious cases rather than accept that there's little evidence they correlate very well.


If I take the time to put criticism of the contract in one mental bucket and criticism of the person and/or her performance in another, I get the impression that the preemptive tone policing loses much of its cause. I'd rather have those two buckets nicely separated than shushed together.


> I'm wondering why people focus on financial compensation so much?

I think that it's unjust when people are paid crazy money for doing poor job. As well as when people are paid little money for good job.


Indeed. I recently found out Michael O'Church was banned from HN because he called her the c word because of the anti-worker policies she implemented at Yahoo. (somewhat indirectly, and I'm hesitant to use it myself for fear of being banned).


You can use the word cunt. What you can't do is call other people cunts.

EDIT:

>somewhat indirectly

No, he directly called her a cunt.

> and I'm hesitant to use it myself for fear of being banned).

Literally no-one on HN has ever been banned for using the word cunt. It's only a problem if you call other people cunts. Here's the relevant mod post: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10016665#10019003


I didn't downvote you but I think you see the issue with your statement yourself. HN does not censor words.

While name calling is completely childish it is most certainly tolerated by other users on HN (Do a search for "is a [insert derogatory word]" site:news.ycombinator.com. Steve Jobs is called an asshole in every HN thread.

For sure ochurch stepped on toes here but one thing he was passionate about is improving the profession of software development and in general the tech industry and he saw MMs actions really harming the profession and the industry. I obviously think HN is worse off without his commentary.


He was also repeatedly asked to tone it down.


I'm guessing her resignation comes with a hefty price tag as well. I'll be very interested to hear what that actual numbers are.


I'd want to be well compensated for taking on a job where I was fairly certain I was doomed to fail because the company is being eaten alive by its competitors.


Wouldn't it be unethical to take on a job you were certain you'd fail at? (If you disclosed that, and they hired you anyway, then there's no ethical problem.)


"Fairly certain", though. If her odds of saving Yahoo were twice as good as an alternative CEO, that was a possibility worth a small fortune. And presumably, they knew the odds were low after sacking the last few CEOs. I'm hoping that she didn't even have to say it - a competent board could approach the whole thing with "we're in deep water, we think you're less doomed than most people would be".

That may well have been the case, but if those odds are 1% and 2% I wouldn't want my compensation to depend on me saving the probably-doomed company.


It's perfectly ethical if you've had a frank discussion with your employer about your odds of success. If you sold them the idea that you could save it, but privately were certain you could not, that is plainly and simply unethical.


>> because the company is being eaten alive by its competitors

What if you were the best qualified candidate?

Would it be unethical then?


If you don't disclose that you could not deliver success, then yes, it would be unethical.


We're not privy to the discussions around her becoming CEO, but I'd imagine everyone involved in the decision was fully aware of Yahoo's predicament.


What level of compensation would it take to make such a statement OK? I'm sure plenty of execs turned it down because of the risk of failure and the inevitable microscope and personal attacks associated with being the CEO of one of the most recognizable but failing companies in the world.


The previous CEO was so sunk by the credentials he couldn't met.

I don't know if you share my vision, but for me in that moment it felt like the house was on fire, the firetruck was on fire and the fire was on fire.

I don't know if a better job could be made, but at least some public face was saved, and the shareholders bought it until the last day.


(reasonable) tone policing helps prevent a bunch of armchair quarterbacks with modestly successful programming backgrounds from assuming they have any idea what happens at the executive level of a company like Yahoo.


Armchair quarterbacking on every topic is the bread and butter of this site. Why should Yahoo be exempt?


It's only the bread and butter of this site on threads that bring out the tabloid readers.


So we shouldn't criticize anyone that does anything other than programming? I don't get your point.


Side note, but are there any good resources for learning how these things work in reality at the executive level? I haven't found much good reading that isn't a bunch of fluff. Any good educational resources on how these situations are run, how the politics work, how to navigate them, etc. Would be really helpful.


> Yes, she wasn't able to keep the ship from sinking. But I do think she put in a good-faith effort.

Are we giving out an A for effort now? CEOs are hired to achieve results. If they fail, it doesn't matter how hard they tried.

Maybe nobody could have prevented the failure of Yahoo. But that doesn't get Mayer off the hook for being a bad CEO -- she made bad decisions, managed to piss off the shareholders, executive team, and rank-and-file employees, hid major security breaches, and did not succeed at any of the things she tried to do. She had no major positive achievements during her entire tenure as CEO.

The best that can realistically be said about her is that she was a bad CEO stuck in an impossible situation.


I can't speak for the rest of HN, but part of the "bashing" of Mayer is not just a personal attack on her, but a critique of our entire culture and economic system.

At the end of the day, she'll receive multiple millions of dollars for doing and achieving nothing.

Not a bad job of you can get it, but the phenomenon itself seems eminentl, judiciously and justifiably open to criticism to me.

She's just another caricature in the social pattern...


This. None of us know Mayer, have met her, really, none of us give a monkeys about her. I'm sure she's a lovely and pleasant person.

Criticism of her in this context are entirely criticisms of the events surrounding her time at Yahoo, for which there are multiple other examples. The habit corporate boards have of rewarding failure is a problem, but it's not clear how to solve it.


I didn't see a good-faith effort, what I saw was a lot of conservative policies that tamped down innovation and then efforts to chase the market leaders.

Marissa Mayer didn't do a good job, her first acts at Yahoo alienated the loyal employees that she needed to embrace. I don't know if anyone could have saved Yahoo from sinking but she sure as shit didn't do anything to stave it off.


Let's do away with excessive scorn for failed CEOs and excessive adulation for successful CEOs.

There's a lot of randomness in business and in life.


Also the excessive pay then by that logic?


Yes, the pay is excessive and probably unnecessary, but BoDs that approve it are often comprised of CEOs at other companies. Quid pro quo.

CEO compensation increased dramatically at around the same time that the finance sector started capturing a bigger chunk of the GDP, which is around the same time that many large companies created mini hedge funds internally. Maybe it's more to do with that, but the country club networking opportunities can't hurt.


Her financial compensation largely depended on stock performance, as is typical with anyone involved at the C-level. A share of YHOO is worth $41 today vs $15 (and lower teens) at the time of her hire five years back.

If the YHOO stock was anywhere near 2012 levels (or lower, or zero), her total compensation would look very different.


She made over $200M in salary over four years. Her risk was zero.

I can see no analog here for anything a normal human being would recognize as a challenge despite tough odds.


There was a pretty major risk that her name would be tarred as "that loser who wrecked Yahoo". It might affect her ability to get any further C-level positions. That risk might not be something that a normal human being would want compensation to take on.


If you have $200 million in the bank, why do you need any further C-level position?

Hell, give me $20 million and I'll take that risk.


By the time you're that rich money & wealth is just a scoresheet, not a means to an end.

Competitive, successful people like winning more than they like money, otherwise people like Larry Ellison wouldn't spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the Americas cup.


> By the time you're that rich money & wealth is just a scoresheet, not a means to an end.

Yo'ure no doubt right, but when a majority of society is told to accept that money is "food, shelter, and a decent existence" to most people, and "points in a senseless ego game" to a few, things have gone badly off the rails. Those differences in perspective tend to be resolved violently and badly.


$2 million


You would be a better CEO than me off the bat. You just saved the company $198 million.


I don't blame Marissa for "not saving Yahoo".

I blame her for allowing the NSA to (illegally) get root access to Yahoo's servers so they can spy on everyone whenever they feel like it with no oversight, for doing it behind the security team's backs (not that it matters much in the grand scheme of things, but also shows what kind of person she is), and (perhaps related) allowing 1 billion of Yahoo accounts to be hacked so easily.

So what does this show us? Beyond her failing to "make great new products at Yahoo", which I guess you could argue no one other than Steve Jobs may have been able to do at Yahoo anymore, it shows that she likes to betray not just her colleagues but also the users at the companies she leads. And in the end she ended up getting paid more than handsomely for all of those failures or malicious actions in which she engaged.

So I'll make sure to never ever use a service run by Marissa Mayer and that everyone I know stays away from a company run by her.


I really wish this wasn't true. The Internet is effectively dead to me.


She got paid an obscene amount of money to continue driving a sinking ship into the bottom of the ocean. She is not a plucky entrepreneur risking everything against the odds. She gets zero kudos from me.


I do as well. As outlined in The Halo Effect, people want very tidy, clean, and rational reasons why a company failed. Blame must be specifically laid somewhere. However, there's a pretty good chance no one available could have saved the demise of Yahoo. Variance is a thing.


I don't really mind people failing.

I do think there's something wrong with someone earning massive amounts of money to fail and then everyone saying, "Oh well, anyone would have failed in that role."

Why pay someone huge sums of money if failure is the expected outcome?


> Why pay someone huge sums of money if failure is the expected outcome?

Because the people making executive compensation decisions are from a narrow elite class and are the people benefiting from executive compensation decisions.


Well-said. Major example: interlocking boards of directors. They clearly demonstrate cartel-like behavior where it's "us vs them" at one level protecting their personal profits and "them vs them" at another level competing for good positions, policy preferences, or market share. Unsurprisingly, it's one of ideal moves a capitalist can make in an environment like the U.S. given it gains the personal benefits of capitalism while minimizing the risk that real competition or cost minimization of labor would bring them. They must operate collectively to defeat what threatens their wealth.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interlocking_directorate

Example with some specifics and nice illustrations:

http://www2.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/corporate_communi...

EDIT: The answers all around yours are screenshot-worthy. Perfect example of what the elites bought with all those donations/visits to universities, textbooks, biased media, and so on. Many still believe they have to earn it in a way that's about merit as an employee of the company. Thousands of years of human history showed nepotism, classism, and other rigging were main ways people got ahead. Then it suddenly is out of the equation for many analyzing success of modern elites. ;)


The "failure" is subjective. What's objective is the stock price, which has grown from $15 to $41 under her management.

As bulk of her compensation is locked in stock (negotiated at 2012 prices), it's increasingly hard for her to get compensated less while the stock has tripled in value.


all the stock growth is due to buybacks, so credit goes to Janet, not Marissa.


That may be, and you seem to have a better scoop on the internals.

I was just pointing out that there are very few YHOO investors unhappy with the stock moves 2012-2017 (when benchmarked against S&P 500 or whatever else is commonly accepted metric) compared with, for example, Eric Jackson's war against Terry Semel's (and some directors') compensation package while the stock was in consistent decline https://www.law360.com/articles/26456/advisors-oust-yahoo-di...


>Why pay someone huge sums of money if failure is the expected outcome?

Because all big C-level positions work this way? Doesn't make it a good idea, or even rational. But humans are of the rationalizing type, not actual rational beings.


The blame for compensation should be on the board, not the CEO.


I suppose, there's a huge responsibility coming with that role, and you also know your name will be stained forever. But it's something somebody has to do.


their names are never stained. she will resurface in some other high profile position in no time. these C*O's live in their own universe, where common sense and peasants' logic do not apply.


Because it wasn't the expected outcome. Or, at least, there was a chance that things could be saved. The high risk is even more reason to offer huge compensation.

We can only see in retrospect that it was doomed to failure.


What risk? Yahoo failed, but Marissa Mayer made out with millions of dollars. Seems like a no-risk endeavor to me.


The risk of her future income being depressed. The risk her compensation package mitigated by paying her millions even in the face of a perceived failure.


To attract someone who has a chance of fixing things rather than someone who is guaranteed to fail?


One reason I heard for the demise of Yahoo, from someone who worked there, was tech was totally anarchic. They didn't build up the vast amounts of shared software infrastructure that Google, Facebook and Amazon did. Apparently, each separate business unit did a lot of reinventing the wheel. That might have been something someone with a background in big company software architecture could have focused on, but that wasn't Marissa.


if only they had a chance to rewrite their web site in angular 2, things would have been so much different.

jokes aside, they rewrote their yahoo finance site in some JavaScript framework, so it became plain unusable. they moved ticker box to the right side (congratulation, Marissa, deeply strategic decision! how many millions did you get for this one?) and hooked it up to shitload of JS, so entering ticker and pressing enter just don't work - I have to slowly press keys and patiently wait for some unwanted intellisense magic to wake up and help me to understand that when I type JNK I really mean JNK.


Jokes aside.

I'm not 100% sure but I am guessing based on few thing I see in the current code browser side. Finance probably copied a lot of what sports was doing. Sports was ahead of the game a little because it was not as old as Finance.

I know that Angular 1 was not allowed back when it first started to catch on. I am not sure if it was because of the CLA or the license, but I do think there was something legal around patents. Yahoo still has a ton of patents.

Sports was already working on a new framework that I believe predates Angular. Some of that crazy JS was there to support precog, a preloading interface and some other things. Some of it was based on the horrid work of an architect that did not last long after MM started. Still I can't say he did that or she did this. There was a period of trying to get modern that failed before MM showed up. I do know of several folks that did what they could do and made that framework the best they could.

Now to get back to finance. When I was leaving, finance was still in many languages. In 2015 some parts of finance pages where still rendered in C. Yes think sprintf and friends. When you have something like 5 languages rendering a page doing the whole, "we are going to rending in Angular" isn't really an option.

This is the very definition of technical debt. Does it suck? Yes. Is this something a CEO can fix? No. Can we blame one little framework on the demise? That would just be stupid. Technology does not work in a bubble. It works on the shoulders of it's creators and has to overcome the faults of those creators. This is much as is life, we evolve when need be, but until then we live on.


yahoo finance was fast, old fashioned site used and scraped by lot of people. kudos to them for being one of the few sources of free EOD data and options chains. the decision to fuck it up (meticulously executed) must have come from the top. i am not blaming Marissa for choosing the wrong JS framework, but for being completely clueless while one of the pillars of yahoo online business was being destroyed.


Or it was too much inertia to overcome, which is probably a huge factor.


It was both and more. I started there back when Bartz was CEO. Bartz continued down the media company path that was already established. Thompson doubled down and cut huge amount of tech talent to focus on media. Like he literally almost completely killed labs the PhD wing that did research. There are other things that elaborate on that really hurt and created the outcome we see today.

When MM started she had no idea of the technical debt she was going to inherit. Something to keep in mind is that Yahoo invented web at scale. It started on FreeBSD and had kernel contributors even when I started. I think they all work for Apple these days. To help handle scale Yahoo would create Yahoo versions of software via things like kernel extensions or software patches. Nobody was doing these things back in the late 90s, but it was needed. Back then nobody knew what we know now and they literally where making it up as they went along.

The thing is when you are the first to the table it sometimes creates technical issues. Sometime before I started there was a decision to shift from BSD to Linux. That was probably a good decision, not because of the merits of FreeBSD, but because Linux was getting a lot more headway with extra contributors. When you have code that was dependent on kernel extensions and you change kernels you get some pain points. Some are manageable others are not. I don't think anybody knew how painful that transition would be, well maybe Filo did because he was crazy aware of everything. As a side note when I started Filo was maybe a L3 but I think a L4 because tech was just that that devalued. So if he did know he probably didn't have much say in the matter. Even as a major stock holder he is not the kind of guy that throws that around, I really think he cares more about the tech then his bank account. If I had his bank account I probably would be in the same place.

Yahoo also made a somewhat fatal accounting issue prior to me getting there and probably early on. This was probably the right thing at that time, but it morphed into a bigger issue later down the road. They wanted to isolate "properties" or business units financially. To do that each property, such as news, sports or mail had their own hardware and justification for the hardware. This unfortunately creates a hoarding of assets since you never know when you can get more compute or storage. Keep in mind we are are talking pre-VM tech for you young folks and buying a server cost some big bucks. This created a culture or inertia that made to switch to VM very difficult. That wasn't the only thing. If the sports "product" is separate from the news "product" and assets, both physical and talent wise are isolated, then where is the incentive to share? This doesn't mean there was no sharing, there was, but it created a culture of do it your own way to get things done.

When MM started she focused internally at first. If you where in the building you got that. If you where in IT then well you knew there was a laser on you. It was all about getting the simple things first, upgrade outdated laptops etc. Then it moved to getting infrastructure in place. She was trying to shift the culture from mediocrity for developers to a developer and product first standpoint. It then became about reducing technical debt and lifting the barriers between groups. That ship does not correct overnight. There was some point in this that she did have to embrace the media focus and did a few big deals to get media talent, just is just a guess, but the timing is right.

Probably the final nail in the coffin was delivered unknowingly by co-founder Jerry Yang. With all best intentions Yang helped his friend Jack Ma with the Alibaba venture. Instead of a personal investment Yang opted for a joint venture where Alibaba got Yahoo China and some cash and Yahoo got some shares in Alibaba. Well as we all know Alibaba took off and the deal is just epic in terms of ROI. That created a big issue though. When MM took the reigns she would grow the stock price marginally which should have bought time, but Alibaba took over. The stock price became a proxy to Alibaba and the hedge funds took notice. Enter Jeffery Smith and his hedge fund. He did his job, as unpleasant as some of us might think, and went to work on maximizing return. Most of that return is in tax savings so he started working that angle which is ultimately why this sale is going to happen. When a company goes from $15 per share to $40 per share because of a holding, you are and investment company. There is nothing that can be done you are tied to the holding.

When Yahoo hired MM they had fired 2 CEOs in the past year, had two interim CEOs, and was probably looking to just get somebody that had a chance of righting the ship.


> Yahoo invented web at scale

This is true, and what Yahoo did in its early days was definitely impressive, but the talent that did it moved on, and was never replaced.

When I joined in 2013, I encountered a lot of systems/processes/whatever that would have been impressive in 2003, but hadn't been updated or replaced in 10 years, and the culture inside Yahoo was still stuck in a weird not-invented-here bubble where a lot of people thought their 2003 tech was still impressive.

Turns out, if you gut the engineering organization over a decade, you end up with a B team, and you're completely unable to attract the A players necessary to keep innovating.

There's a lot of criticism in this thread that Marissa didn't do anything worthwhile, but she sure as hell tried. All those acquisitions? Almost all of them were acquihires, in a desperate attempt to get A players. Most of those didn't stick around very long though, because there's only so much shit and technical debt you can stand, and then the company is out the money, and has very little to show for it. It could have worked, but it didn't.


I believe we fought many of the same battles then. I think every Yahoo engineer at that time can curse ylock. If you where good though you looked at it with the WTH ylock did and thought hell it wasn't that bad for 20th century or early 21st, unfortunately there we where in early twenty tens constained and just trying to get a 64-bit kernel.

It's worth note that Facebook also had some similar challenges. They had so much in PHP and if you are an idiot and think just rewrite well then you would be doomed to failure. The advantage that Facebook had a few years back was that the didn't go through a period of removing tech talent in the same fashion that Yahoo did. They also had cash, a lot of cash. They could afford to pay for things like HipHop. By the time Yahoo needed a tech refresh they had already burned the cash and caused the talent to leave.

I know that sounds bleak, but at the same time while I was there after MM I did find really great talent. Some of that existed before she was there. I can think of several folks on tech47 project and they know who they are. They don't really need to be told they are talent. At the same time I can think of many new guys that brought it on. I still think one of the better talks I had was a with the new guy that wrote some of the Android network stack. Without telling names, he was describing the issues between dropping WiFi and dropping cell. One is easier then the other, if I drop WiFi and still have cell I can continue. If I drop cell I can only hope for WiFi. Either case is hard because the stack needs to understand an IP address shift and adjust accordingly. When you have that talent that understands and can code it, then you get things done. Unfortunately with everything else in the valley getting a quick hit and retaining are two different things.


Facebook also has one single product, whereas Yahoo has I don't know how many products, and they're all completely different, on sort of different stacks, in different silos and budget orgs, and all slightly different such that unifying them is an enormous task.

If they had had the engineering talent and budgets to build the kind of shared infrastructure and fundamentals that for example Google did, they would have been in a very different spot.


^ this is the real story here.

The alibaba investment was probably Jerry Yang's best ROI decision aside from being a part of starting the company in the first place...

Unfortunately for Yahoo itself that decision was SOOO good that it would eventually consume the company.

Because there was basically no way for the company to overcome how valuable it was as an Alibaba proxy and wall street started to look at all of its other endeavors as just high risk low chance of return gambling with the Alibaba money.


>However, there's a pretty good chance no one available could have saved the demise of Yahoo.

Case in point. A clean, tidy, rational reason why Yahoo failed: it was impossible to save. Blame the company itself.


How is anything she did a "big risk" if she is immune for any consequences of failure?


As an enthusiast photographer, she did one great thing in my book: She oversaw the attempted revitalization of Flickr. The old Flickr product and UI had stagnated for the better part of a decade, and under her administration, Yahoo rebooted a lot of the core experience. Some parts were rebooted more successfully than others, but on the balance, it was for the better.


She did the bare minimum that needed to be done to keep flickr alive, I'm not sure it's worthy of praise. Flickr is currently comatose or dead, given that they haven't updated their mobile app in over a year, let alone anything else on the site. Yahoo could've used flickr to pre-empt YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram all in one, but Yahoo instead neglected it and ran it into the ground. I feel bad for the engineering talent that Yahoo wasted, but the executive leadership deserves nothing but scorn. They missed so many huge opportunities.


Flickr's a tough case. You make it Instagram or Facebook, even successfully, and it's not Flickr. I know I've personally bitched about Flickr stagnating but, when I think about it, I'm not sure how I really want it to change. It's a hosting--and, to some degree, sharing--site mostly for people who are relatively serious about photography. I can think of a few changes I'd like but I suspect that the original Flickr vision is fundamentally a niche market at this point.


The ads on flickr wrecked it 4 me


Would you pay for a (higher) subscription?


No I don't even have any photos on there I just use it to browse photography stuff and the ads are tasteless. Yes I realize it's not free to run. I'm still not a fan of this change and think there must be a better way.


If I may use the full benefits of hindsight, I wonder if Yahoo, instead of Google, ought to have been the company to go all-in on a social network competitor to facebook, (and I don't mean 360°). Yahoo had more organic components of a social community across its properties than Google ever did. If they wanted to mature into something that was more than a media company, that seems to me like the path to take.

Of course it's easy to say that. I have much more faith in Google's ability to execute on that front than Yahoo, and look what happened to G+. So who knows if they could have done it right.


Flickr was the only service that insisted I should stop paying the yearly fee and switch to a free plan. Shortly afterwards they drove me away for good with some silly zoom and pan effect on photo views.


I do not think she put in a good-faith effort. I am an ex-Yahoo, and found the hiring of several mid-level Googlers and buying a startup run by an ex-APM investigation-worthy.


There are challenges and then there are challenges.

When the challenge is... "Try to increase/stabilize Yahoo profits and keep relevant/hip, and, no matter what, we'll give you X millions of dollars." I don't think that's a challenge, let alone an immense challenge.

Start with nothing. No code, no customers, no brand, no employees, no customers, no investors, and very little cash in the bank for runway, and try to build that up to Yahoo's level -- that's a challenge. That's a big challenge.

Being able to parachute into a high status, high privledge, highly paid (no matter what) role, where you can just kind of twiddle the bits and get to spin every more you make as the obviously smart thing to do -- that's easy. Even if you "fail" you still win. Very different from situations where when you fail you... starve, get evicted, etc.


> Yes, she wasn't able to keep the ship from sinking. But I do think she put in a good-faith effort.

yahoo was a sinking ship already but she illegally fired men because they were men and got rid of remote workers, is that really considered "good-faith effort"?

http://www.businessinsider.com/why-marissa-mayer-told-remote...


Pretty much every thread I've seen on Marissa since she started has had a comment like this.


I want to echo on your message and also to thank you for contributing with a positive comment and not with a harsh one like most people often do.

I remember a few years ago when some of the stuff that Marissa was doing to reshape Yahoo's internal structure were being looked with good eyes and were being replicated in other companies (Bringing in remote people, focusing on some products, etc.) I guess we can all agree that in the end she didn't do the best job but maybe no one else could've done it differently. No way to know now.


> doing to reshape Yahoo's internal structure were being looked with good eyes

My recollection of those events were that Marissa Mayer exercised her privilege to have a daycare next to her office while ignoring the needs of all the parents that worked for her. Those were the events that made me dislike her, it showed antipathy for the people that had stuck at Yahoo.


Sure we can. Just spin up a parallel universe instance and change just one or two decisions. There's an AWS offering for that right?


Saving it would have required big bold moves. Did she make any?


>bashing of Marissa that will undoubtedly unfurl on this thread

Can we say something about the Tumblr acquisition?


So what, give out a participation ribbon?


I agree. But part of leadership is that people criticize your performance- fairly or otherwise. Being a leader means accepting that.


If a CEO doesnt perform, she is accountable. If multiple CEO's dont perform, it is the board who must be held accountable.


Using your example, how much of a benefit is to have a "steady" ship while its still "sinking" ??


you criticize people screwing up. it is right thing to do


She raided the company, she did nothing good


Out of curiosity, why do you call her by her first name instead of her last name (Meyer)? Is there another famous Meyer such that there could be a confusion here?


Eh? Does it matter?

Some people are referred to frequently by their first names (Sergey, Larry, Joel), some by their last name (Woz, Jobs), some by both or either.

Are you trying to imply something?


There’s no reason to be confrontational here; I’m wondering why we refer to some people by their first name rather than they last name. The most obvious reason is when there’s already a famous <last_name> (e.g. "Hillary" vs. "Clinton"), or if you know that person personnally. Wikipedia refers to both Marissa M_a_yer and Larry Page (and everybody) with their last name. Do you have some examples of e.g. press articles where Brin or Page are referred to by their first name?


Funnily enough, there is a well-known Marissa MEyer as well as the Yahoo CEO Marissa MAyer.

http://ew.com/article/2013/02/14/marissa-meyer-talks-scarlet...


You spelled her last name wrong.


That’s right; thanks!


Oscar.


ask Elon


Couldn't agree more.


The only mention of Mayer I can find is

> Each of David Filo, Eddy Hartenstein, Richard Hill, Marissa Mayer, Jane Shaw and Maynard Webb has indicated that he or she intends to resign from the Board effective upon the Closing, and that his or her intention to resign is not due to any disagreement with the Company on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.

Which indicates that she'll resign from the board, but doesn't say anything about her resigning as CEO. Is that just left off here because it doesn't require SEC disclosure, or is it a possibility that she'll stay?


If she stays, it should be with Verizon Yahoo, not with Altaba (shell containing Alibaba shares formerly known as Yahoo), which is a kind of company Mayer has no experience managing (and also not a managerial challenge worth the kind of salary she can get elsewhere)


Well, at least they registered Altaba.com. No IP address as of now, though it looks like their mail is handled by Google Apps!


Interstingly this could make sense, because they're selling off all of the Yahoo! assets there is no reason there is no incentive to use Yahoo! mail and in fact they lose the rights to those assets once the sale is completed.

Altaba will still be holding all of the other assets not sold to verizon so this is likely the best way to move forward for whoever is left working for this not quite dead entity once the sale is complete.


Suppose they'll be less likely to get hacked.


Haha. Thanks for the chuckle.


[flagged]


Please comment civilly and substantively here or not at all.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


You're kidding. Tell me you're kidding.


Maybe I could be hitting a cache or something, but here's what I see:

  $ host Altaba.com
  Altaba.com mail is handled by 10 alt4.aspmx.l.google.com.
  Altaba.com mail is handled by 1 aspmx.l.google.com.
  Altaba.com mail is handled by 5 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.
  Altaba.com mail is handled by 5 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.
  Altaba.com mail is handled by 10 alt3.aspmx.l.google.com.
Here's yahoo.com for reference:

  $ host yahoo.com
  yahoo.com has address 206.190.36.45
  yahoo.com has address 98.138.253.109
  yahoo.com has address 98.139.183.24
  yahoo.com has IPv6 address 2001:4998:58:c02::a9
  yahoo.com has IPv6 address 2001:4998:c:a06::2:4008
  yahoo.com has IPv6 address 2001:4998:44:204::a7
  yahoo.com mail is handled by 1 mta7.am0.yahoodns.net.
  yahoo.com mail is handled by 1 mta5.am0.yahoodns.net.
  yahoo.com mail is handled by 1 mta6.am0.yahoodns.net.


And that's not everything because this is the TXT record

altaba.com. 1800 IN TXT "google-site-verification=vO3De5z6qb-AeM1GmHkcC5dlWA_cw-7WKN5xhcyFFPM"


That's required for Google's domain ownership verification, which is a pre-requisite to enabling G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Domains).


This says Marissa will not be involved with Altaba Inc. (RemainCo) after Yahoo's operating business is sold to Verizon. Which makes sense, since any future of her leadership is with the operating business instead of the investment company Altaba.


Key takeaways from this filing: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is resigning and the company is changing its name to "Altaba Inc."

(The article link was changed from https://twitter.com/BuzzFeedNews/status/818589759320637440 at around 50 points)


For the record, this is incorrect. The SEC filing does not indicate she is resigning as CEO. See other comments for explanations about what's actually going on.


Yeah, I feel like that one tweet was a better distillation of what is happening than a dump to the dry source. Oh well.


How much is she being paid as part of this resignation?

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