Such things in-fact happened to me (even tho I'm a bit younger than Mayer & my career started a few years later than hers), human memory is really unreliable & a lot of times you remember your feelings & translate those to facts upon recollection even when that wasn't quite the case.
"This CEO rewrites history! My friend's memory is more trustworthy!"
I was at Netscape and was actually in meetings that marca, and others were not in, and it's funny to hear what they say happened, when they weren't in the room, nor were they consulted. Even the people at the top can be guilty of speculation.
If both companies’ data needs to be combined an analyzed, they usually bring in an outside deals consulting firm. Those teams tend to be very small due to the sensitive nature of the discussions involved — usually 2 or 3 people (backed by a large shared support staff and tooling) over the course of a few weeks.
Often the data used is a combination of proprietary data from both companies, commercially sourced data or proprietary data platforms built by the consulting companies. Deals are a big, sensitive, relationship-driven business.
It's often one guy with a spreadsheet, and 1-2 people to review the spreadsheet and a few business people to validate assumptions. The modeling is easy, getting the assumptions right is hard.
To be honest, if you're skilled very simple models that you can do in your head or in a few minutes usually give you a perfectly good answer. The more complex exhaustive models are usually there to make sure you didn't overlook something or 20 small inputs all cross multiplied to throw your answer off.
Getting the answer exactly right also doesn't matter, if you make $90m in profit off a deal or $100m your going to do it. What you are most concerned about is making sure that you don't lose money and what factors would push you to do that.
AOL had ad inventory and Google had to get enough eye balls?
See also the Yahoo/Bing deal which didn't work out as well. Microsoft didn't end up actually hitting the targets, and convinced Yahoo to take less; and Yahoo also didn't reduce employee count anywhere near plan on searchy/advertising stuff, so they missed targets on revenue and cost and user experience.
It was guaranteed revenue IIUC, something like "If you do not make at least $150M from this deal, Google will pay you the difference." That makes the deal a no-brainer for AOL, but puts Google on the hook for any shortfall, which could have potentially ended up bankrupting the company.
CPC = Cost per Click (cost per 1 click)
These terms are widely used today.
"I think this is a common thing that very analytical people trip themselves up with. They look at things as if there’s a right answer and a wrong answer when, the truth is, there’s often just good choices, and maybe a great choice in there."
The above paragraph is rational, and yet people who consider themselves hyper rational often ignore the truth of this. And the irony is that some of them do this for an emotional reason: they want the security that comes from believing that there is an absolute right answer. They are irrationally rational.
Here's a simple counterexample to what I understand your theorem to say: consider an infinite search space: 𝕽∞ and a utility function: 1-|x|. There's a single global optimum at (0, ...), and the gradient of the utility function would find it quickly.
This is infinitely truer for when you try and find absolute maxima and minima and not just local ones.
There's no such thing.
I understand the point you're making, but these gross assumptions aren't how the world works. Reminds me of econ models with ridiculous assumptions that don't pan out when reality is a constraint.
The only perfect model of reality is reality itself. Assumptions are fine if they're reasonable
I would assume so...
It is also a very good example of exactly what the previous post refers to: overthinking stuff.
Now granted there are time to hunker down and commit but sometimes all that data doesn't really tell you anything and you're still facing an unknown no matter how much work you do, and it might be worth thinking about it after taking a few steps down that road / experience. It's not uncommon to come across a variable(s) that plays a far stronger role than any other, only AFTER you tried doing something.
For hyper analytical folks the data on hand is the hammer for every nail it seems sometimes.
Hard data also suggest how often the allegedly rational result suddenly became wrong. The rational conclusion here should be to decrease hubris then, shouldn't it? Nope...
And this is already a stereotype for softies...
This absolutely drives me crazy in design/engineering decisions. Very commonly there are a lot of good solutions and one great one, and the good ones are good enough. Yet all the brilliant intellectuals want to find the VERY BEST METHOD EVER instead of just getting stuff done.
For many mathematical, CS problems, it _does_ help to think very hard to find the very best solution to the problem, sometimes irrationally hard. I do agree that we operate in a real world, and the facts of running a business mean that you can't be spending all your time trying to figure out the best.
However, it was only by thinking very, very deeply about these problems have many of the technological improvements been possible. MapReduce, AI, ML, Cloud Computing... all started as ideas in companies where people dedicate quite a bit of thought into how to solve some basic problems.
I'll be honest: I am glad that I can reap the fruits of the labor of all these smart people, that they have enabled me to change the way computing is done, to make it easier for anyone to get started and to generate value very quickly, using the building blocks which they created after thinking about and working about this for so long.
Mayer: "I had a long analytical evening with a friend of mine where we looked at all the job offers I had received. We created a giant matrix with one row per job offer and one column per value. We compared everything from the basics like cash and stock to where I'd be living, happiness factor, and trajectory factor—all of these different elements. And so we went to work analyzing this problem."
Sandberg: "After a while I had a few offers and I had to make a decision, so what did I do? I am MBA trained, so I made a spreadsheet. I listed my jobs in the columns and my criteria in the rows, and compared the companies and the missions and the roles."
It's a fun bit of trivia that Sandberg put the criteria in the rows, which enables sorting the criteria - a nice way to see the upsides and downsides of each choice.
It's rare, that's all.
You have to look at quality of work, work life balance, the area, commute time, cost of living, salary, 401k match, benefits, chance of advancement, company culture, job safety, bonus amount, job security...etc. For a lot of people the choice is a no-brainer, but there are comparable and even worse jobs out there.
I apologise for the seemingly privledged attitude, but I'm assuming most on HN are Software Developers, Engineers, Mathematicians, and Scientists which generally have options and change jobs on occasion. Every single person who changed has done a pro/con comparison. Even if it was a no-brainier, the comparison would've taken place subconsciously.
Maybe not (although I don't think that's vanishingly rare).
But don't most people do something like this when deciding what they want to do next even if there aren't any active offers on the table at all?
I think this is a luxury problem. How many people have competing job offers that are even close to each other in attractiveness?
I think about this quote a lot. It's so easy to get trapped in analysis paralysis which is really just procrastinating a decision. Like most things, there is a balance. Notice he says 'good' plan, not any plan.
So, don’t be McClellan, but don’t be Cadorna either.
The very term "overthinking" implies that there's a right amount of thinking for any decision, so your real problem is working out how much thinking to do.
It's how leaders need to operate to survive if they want to avoid micromanaging, honestly.
One could argue this article looks at a restricted range where the log behaves more lineary, but if we're going to apply mathematical modeling to our life choices, ... :-)
Somewhat ironically being irrational can actually be a good way to make unknown, but largely equal, decisions. Because at least you picked something with conviction, rather than having analyzed the situation incorrectly.
Of course for a lot of us good choices aren't the problem so much as the downside. I remember someone made a calculator online for how many time one would most likely see their parents before they died.
I am confused. Is she talking about foundation CS courses like OS & database systems OR AI courses?
I am reminded of the story of Henry IV who stood barefoot in the snow for three days. And through the grace of God not getting frost bite. We have come so far when we no longer believe you need God for acts like this.
This is such an odd post. Who expects someone working 140 hour weeks to do all of their own house work? Sure, they're working 20 hours a day but they ordered chinese takeout and drop off their laundry!
Then, you link to child care as an example of "her domestic work"? Who complains about someone leaving their kid in daycare?
>Who complains about someone leaving their kid in daycare?
The mothers in Yahoo who can't work from home any more and can't afford the $300 a day daycare in SF.
Someone asked a technical question, and you managed to turn the topic into accusations against Marissa Mayer (and ones that at least invoke sexism).
There's a time and a place for criticism, but it's not every time someone asks a question about her.
Because it might be something worth mentioning before you start telling people to plan their bathroom breaks.
>Could you work 130 hours in a week?” The answer is yes, if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower, and how often you go to the bathroom. 
Adding "Oh and by the by I have a nanny, gardener, chef and maid too." makes the advice seem a lot less relevant.
HER domestic work? There is absolutely no reason why she should or would mention this other than your sexist expectations.
Do you expect male CEOs to mention they pay someone to do their laundry and are abdicating their "domestic responsibilities"? Seriously?!
Um, yes, if they're bragging about how much time they spend working? It indicates that their ability to put in that much time comes from a position of privilege (i.e., having the money to pay other people to perform tasks most people would have to take care of themselves), and hence isn't a reasonable expectation to project onto people not in that same position.
But I do not remember this point ever being made in discussions of those workaholics. Until a woman came along.
Also: the same user calls Mayer (and Holmes) „attention whores“ downthread. I rest my case.
> Be civil. Don't say things you wouldn't say face-to-face. Don't be snarky. Comments should get more civil and substantive, not less, as a topic gets more divisive.
> When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names.
> Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith.
You of course would know this if you read the link I provided, instead of the first line of my post.
Do you have a citation that mothers at Yahoo complained? Or that mothers at Yahoo were non-trivially worse off than other companies in their situation at that time?
disclaimer: ex yahoo
"This upset many employees – mothers in particular."
As for other companies, well, my employer existed at that time, had and still has a work-from-home culture that's more friendly towards mothers, and is routinely highly rated in most innovative company beauty pageants. The link from the link also details basically every other company in 2013 having a non-trivially better situation with flexible WFH policies.
At some point you need to face the fact that you are a useful idiot to the lizard class by only seeing sexism, even when women are being worked to death by other women.
Coming home from a 140 hour work week it’s nice if you don’t have to also do cleaning, cooking and other maintenance at home.
And to be fair, if you work that much you should probably have the money to pay someone to take care of that for you.
There is no "coming home" if you work 140hrs per week (or 130, as MM claimed to have done in Google for years). I doubt it is sustainable by anybody (4hrs of sleep per night are simply not enough for anybody- assuming you can go from "work" to "sleep" and vice-versa in 0 time, excluding showering, dressing, teeth-brushing, eating and going to the loo-, you become unable to perform any intellectual job on that schedule).
I suspect these figures come only from an extremely loose definition of "work" and are further inflated like the proverbial fish of fishermen's tales.
Probably the only hard limit to these claims is the fact that there are 168 hours in a week, otherwise it would be a contest between this CEO claiming he worked 190 and the other replying she worked 300.
As I understand it, foundational CS classes are not a requirement for that degree. Although I do know people who majored in Symbolic Systems and completed such courses in undergrad, I assume they were electives rather than requirements.
In Masters she got to cover those off. I think her majoring in Symbolic Systems not CS meant she missed out on compilers, DBs, etc..
A university here has a cognitive science degree. Many people doing it and then a masters in CS to get at least a bit more practical with all the AI stuff they learned.
Yeah... I did both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in CS, and I've never written a complete working compiler, OS or database - I've written and tested "toy" versions of such, but that claim seems to be a bit hyperbolic. Maybe she did do all of those things, but none of those were coursework.
Hope that helps.
Sort of in a slump and I don't have anything smart to say but this made me feel a little better. I feel like I have far more ability than my company utilizes but I cannot quit because I need this job. I don't have the balls to start a company because I don't have a great idea. I just write code. So I will wait. Something will give eventually.
> And one of the reasons I was a good product manager was because I had been an engineer.
Marissa Mayer was an accomplished engineer and then a senior executive at Google through its transition from startup to behemoth, then took on the impossible task of rescuing Yahoo when no comparably experienced man wanted to step up to the plate, and facilitated a solid outcome for shareholders .
Reasonable people can debate the merits of her performance and impact at both companies, but these kinds of one-line dismissals of her entire career from armchair quarterbacks are disgraceful.
She was a product manager not an engineer. Her greatest accomplishment according to her was keeping the home page simple by only including the search bar. She also made the right decision to invest heavily in google maps.
You also left out the part where she slept with the founder during her time at Google, which undoubtedly gave her a leg up for promotions.
> then took on the impossible task of rescuing Yahoo when no comparably experienced man wanted to step up to the plate
She took it because she struck a sweat deal with board. In exchange for forgoing her google shares, she was able to reap 300 million in 4 years despite having an abysmal performance. Give any experience man that type of deal and I assure you there will be many that step up.
This is false.
She completed a master's in computer science and had built machine learning systems in her studies and internships in the late 90s. She was in the first 20 employees at Google and started out as an engineer, building the first version of what would become Adwords.
Then she went into product management and engineering management. Perhaps she wasn't a good enough engineer; I don't know or care really. She was hired for her engineering talent, made a solid contribution as an engineer, then made an even bigger contribution as a product manager then as an executive - all for one of the most successful and internally-competitive companies of our generation.
You don't achieve that by accident or by dating the boss.
Your comment is pure armchair quarterbacking. People who have actually built or managed hugely successful companies don't make those kinds of dismissals.
She might have built the first version of adwords, but she was a product manager for most of her time at Google. So my statement is not false, but true.
> Your comment is pure armchair quarterbacking. People who have actually built or managed hugely successful companies don't make those kinds of dismissals.
Says the person that is throwing personal insults in violation of hacker news rules. I prefer not to stoop to your level.
As much as you don't like it, sleeping with your boss no matter you are male or female does have an effect on one's career. Dismissing them just because you have an naive view of the world is your choice.
There are reason why people that do that tends to get fired in other companies. For example,
The main concern behind my comments is that in the dismissals of Mayer (the original one I replied to and the two of yours) we've had comments that are uncivil and against the guidelines, by (1) likening her to an alleged criminal, (2) ignoring/diminishing her science/engineering qualifications/experience, (3) dismissing the entirety of her career achievements as being due to her being a woman and/or dating the boss, and (4) pinning all blame on her for the failure of Yahoo and indeed dismissing her tenure there as a outright failure.
Fair enough, (4) is worthy of discussion.
Everything else is sexist and/or disrespectful.
As for being personally insulting, I took care to criticise your actions, not you as a person.
These comments you've written are offensive and of poor quality, and I do encourage you to do some soul-searching about what motivates you to make them.
(Edited to clarify that not all civility breaches were in all of the comments upthread).
> (3) dismissing the entirety of her career achievements as being due to her being a woman
> (4) pinning all the blame on her
I did no such thing. I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t put words in my mouth. I made sure to point out that sleeping with your boss whether you are male or female is inappropriate. I have 0 opinion on whether she is female or male. That has not been the point of the argument.
And no, I do not think of her as a criminal. Those are your own words, not mine.
As for the failure of yahoo, I only pointed out she stepped up because of the deal she got. I have not blamed her for the downfall. Those are your words again.
I think you are having an overreaction to my comments. I don’t need some soul searching as you suggest. Rather you need to learn to calm yourself down and argue less with your emotions. Most of these arguments you claim I am expressing are of your own skewed perspective.
I have no interest in arguing with someone that thinks of himself as better than others. You are entitled to idolise her as you wish, but people can have different opinions of her. You took a counter argument and drew a whole picture of my character based on that. The one with a problem is you. Since you asked me to souls search. I would kindly ask you to stare at the mirror. Have a good day.
I'm reminded of the chimps who outperformed the stock markets: https://www.ft.com/content/abd15744-9793-11e2-b7ef-00144feab... of course replacing the cocaine bill with grapes dramatically lowers your running costs.
In regards to Marissa, I personally believe that the Glass Cliff is real. It's inspiring that she was integral in creating one of the most valuable company in the valley. Likewise, I find it impressive that she was able to climb the political ladder of a generally sexist industry.
HN demonstrably shows the same attitude towards male leaders as well. Elon Musk is the poster child of this.
This has nothing to do with the gender of the leader, but rather an aversion to self-promotion, hyping, or any other exaggeration of the self or one's accomplishments.
The glass cliff didn't make her buy Tumblr for 1.1 billion dollars only for it to be essentially worthless a few years later.
I also think people are a bit harsh on what situation Yahoo was in. They were still profitable, had a ton of users, and plenty of cash in the bank. Sure, it was being left behind but there was plenty of juice there to do something to become relevant again. In the five years she was CEO there's not really anything you can point to as a success. It raises the question of how important she was to the string of successful products that she headed at Google.
Then again, HN seems to discuss her less than Marissa Mayer. Why is that? She's far more successful. When I think great women leaders in tech, she's the first I think of. Anti-hardware bias maybe? Or maybe it's a valley bias. After all, she came out of MIT rather than Stanford and lives in Austin rather than San Francisco. I don't know, what do you think?
I wasn't there. I don't know the inside story. I'm not going to take sides. But neither am I going to assume that she has poor business skills just because she headed up a shutdown effort.
A captain that demands changing colors of the sinking ship on a whim may not be the cause of the sinking but certainly isn't addressing the sinking.
For months, the team had settled on blue and gray. If users were going to read emails on their phones all day long, the thinking went, it was best to choose the most subtly contrasting hues. But now, Mayer explained, she wanted to change the colors to various shades of purple, which she believed better suited Yahoo’s brand.
According to one senior executive, Sharma’s body language changed the moment Mayer issued her request. He looked deflated. Altering the color of such an intricate product would require that members of his team spend all night adjusting colors in thousands of places. He slumped off and prepared to tell his staff the bad news.
Excecutives change their minds on a whim, you are much better off anticipating that.
In contrast to my hypothesis: If you like her, feel free to share your thoughts or prove me wrong. What is special about her?
Of course she chose the rocketship in 1999 while the rest of us fumbled around in the dot com bust. She always had the knack of picking the right place to be at the right time, and the talent (or ability to bs) that she could get noticed when she needed to.
The yahoo thing was the worst misstep I've seen her take, but she got paid $200 million to take the risk, and I'm working for peanuts. So who is the smart one?
Edited to add: There is exactly zero chance she remembers me. But everyone I hung around remembers her. She has a very strange ability to be remembered.
Edit: Before you pile on, I'm rich too. Not as rich as her but rich enough not to take issue with her for that reason. The reason people remember Marissa is she was pretty. End of story.
That doesn't mean I'm lying, and I don't think you are either.
I have no idea what your experience is, and I have absolutely no reason to lie. I doubt Marissa could pick me out of a police lineup if her life depended on it.
But I watched her kick ass at Stanford--both socially and intellectually--and it takes more than a pretty face to do that.
And then got a job at Google. Of all the dot-com companies hiring on campus at the time throwing million dollar opportunities at new graduates, she picks the unicorn.
At some point it isn't luck anymore.
Anyway, I'll agree to disagree here. The post I originally responded to was a question about what is so special about her.
I only know what I saw when I could observe her. That my observations differ from yours is OK with me.
I know several people who worked with her at Google, and she was fairly disliked there. She got frozen out and would have been eventually run out of the company had Yahoo not foolishly come calling. I WAS at Yahoo with her and I can verify that she did a terrible job there. Random decision making, company-wide initiatives that whipsawed from quarter to quarter, billion-dollar impulse acquisitions that almost immediately got written down. And let's not forget Polyvore - the 200m indulgence that she paid to her former assistant against the recommendations of the M&A team; that was just straight cronyism and corporate malfeasance.
True, Yahoo would have been a challenge for any CEO. But there were rational strategies that could have yielded some success. Marissa, on the other hand, went in the opposite direction and recklessly destroyed billions in shareholder value while pocketing hundreds of millions herself. Read the Kara Swisher articles on her at Recode. They were spot on. I heard a Business School professor on MSNBC argue that Marissa Mayer was the single most overpaid CEO in history. As a Yahoo employee who got to observe her tenure up close, I can't disagree. She's a terrible example for women in tech.
Even Gary Kasparov, Genoa Auriemma, and the Golden State Warriors fall off their perch eventually. It doesn’t mean they aren’t damn good at what they do.
I've had people I've casually (sometimes in a business context) interacted with on several occasions & gotten a very positive impression, only to late be told a lot of negatives from people who knew them better.
One guy in particular was praised by my boss (also his ex-boss at the time), confirming my positive impression & years later a coworker of mine who worked under that person had a very negative view of them...
There are several possibilities but I think the most likely is a combination of 1. people act differently in different contexts 2. the same person can be good at one position/time and bad at another 3. people are not always honest with you & especially if they're good at it can come across the way they wish.
Also don't lump Marissa in with Elizabeth Holmes, Holmes could never be iconic with that hair.
Even if you look for women role model in tech, is it possible there aren't any more successful ones?
Lest we forget Elizabeth Holmes, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and for those old enough to remember Bill Gates in the 90s.
If you're lucky you die before you start making terrible decisions. A quote from Napoleon that he supposedly said while in exile "Had I been hit by a canon ball on my entry into Moscow I would have been remembered as the greatest statesman and general the world had ever seen".
Like I said, 'value' is a dangerous proposition to measure anyone by.
None of this speaks against Bill Gates being a genius making Microsoft as powerful and successful as it was and still is though, to the contrary. You may not have liked his style (I didn't), but he did a lot of things right. It's why 90% of business are more or less chained to the Windows platform to this day.
I don't know why you're trying to be such a spoilsport about it. Don't begrudge smart, hardworking people their success, it makes you look like a bitter wingnut. I mean, really: Microsoft and Apple are shams? That's the hill you want to defend?
Here's hoping the next president starts treating digital monopolies like regular ones.
But it would be the opposite for Bill Gates wouldn't it?
Running companies and being featured in Vogue? Iconic.
Marissa is a fake computer scientist. There are real female computer scientists out there, and very good ones at that.
I don't know what your problem is with her but holy shit I'm pretty sure she can code.
If she wore the typical tech uniform it wouldn't detract anything for me, but she wouldn't be iconic to me.
Firing bottom performers every quarter. Banning remote work. Spending $7m on fashion show she attended with friends.
If this was a man he would have basically no right to criticize any other business especially successful one like Google. She looks absolutely ridicilous in this position. It's like F-grade student giving lectures to straight A's student. Do these people have shame at all?
And examples like this, or even worse like infamous Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, should remind us that we shouldn't give free pass to CEOs just because they are women. CEOs have the highest rate of sociopaths, no matter the gender.
Most people are, I think, quite forgiving when it comes to failing in these situations. The issue often is that some people, most in my experience, have no idea how to behave when things go wrong (and, given enough time, something will always go wrong).
Yahoo and aol both had levels of technical debt that are hard to imagine from outside of the company.
In all seriousness, just because Yahoo was in a downspin doesn't mean that leadership can't save the company. Look at John Chen and Blackberry
Remember the Obama style "Hope" posters with her face on them?
She joined it.... that is something she decided to do.
I would like to see your justification for this. Because Yahoo paid 1.1 billion dollars for it and they wrote down pretty much all of the value within a few years. It looks especially bad when compared with Facebook buying Instagram around the same time for about the same price.
Also she killed remote work at Yahoo! and practiced great hypocrisy by simultaneously building a private daycare for her kids next to her office.
She is no hero and it’s ok to point that out.
What do you know about her job description?
Only going by what I've read she was never extremely successful at Google, only hired early and managed to stay, but never incredibly impactful. Honest question because I likely only know half the story what are her real successes at Google?
"There will be no banner ads on the Google homepage or web search results pages. There will not be crazy, flashy, graphical doodads flying and popping up all over the Google site. Ever."
She said that in 2005. And a clean design was quite revolutionary at the time--yahoo and all the other internet portals were cluttered and sticky.
She isn't solely responsible for this aesthetic of course, but it really was her driving much of the theory.
See also, eg, https://daringfireball.net/2008/03/kahney_jackass (the original citation has fallen off the net, unfortunately) where Marissa is cited as being the driving force behind most product look and feel.
I worked on a project that fell under her umbrella. I have seen up close some of the things she gets blamed for. She was demanding, a workaholic and stubborn in some of her choices. E.g. there was this one change that she —through her PM— insisted on, without any knobs, even if we pretty much knew that a vocal minority were going to be unhappy.
On the other hand, she did pick good people to lead the project, even if I wasn't enthusiastic about every single decision taken by her or them. Because she worked so much, it was easy to get feedback from her, too. :-) I also appreciated that she gave props to our team at a public event when we least expected it.
Overall, she wasn't a perfect leader, but she wasn't as bad or just lucky as some claim.
She said that after the announcement of a partnership with AOL. But I believe it to be very, very unlikely that she was the main force to avoid this change. Since it was a characteristic that had come from the creation of the site. But maybe make the other products have a similarity. Or rather, always remember the central page of google was her responsibility.
Said activists made a good return and sold their stake, and Mayer pretty much ran the company in the ground while being compensated well for it. Nothing wrong with that in a capitalist world, however, that's all it is.
Anyone with half a brain could have done that, myself included.