Marissa Mayer: Stop Asking If Yahoo Is a Tech or Media Company
Yahoo’s identity crisis, if you want to call it that, has continued in the years since that visit from Jobs. On Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer attempted to lay the issue to rest, not with an answer, but by throwing dirt on the question itself.
“I’ve scolded people who ask me that. Over the years, it became Yahoo’s version of navel gazing,” Mayer said during an interview with Michael Arrington at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. “In short, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we build products that people love.”
When Mayer was first hired to take over Yahoo in 2012, some assumed it represented a decision to focus more on technology than media considering her background at Google and the fact that her chief competitor for the job was Ross Levinsohn, who came from more of a media background. Yet, she has made a number of notable media announcements.
Under Mayer’s leadership, Yahoo has hired media personalities like Katie Couric and David Pogue to build out news coverage, redesigned its news reading experience and invested in original TV programming.
Indeed, when asked to define Yahoo today, Mayer listed digital magazines as one of the company’s three core business areas.
Of course, Mayer and Yahoo have continued to invest in tech with the goal of providing all the key services that people use on a daily basis. A key part of that effort has been investing in mobile.
“When I got to Yahoo, mobile was everyone’s hobby.. and no one’s job,” she said in the interview. Now, she revealed, Yahoo has more than 500 employees working on mobile thanks in part to dozens of small startup acquisitions.
Even so, she admits Yahoo has a long way to go to catch up to other Internet companies.
“We’re late and we’re behind,” Mayer said. “We think we’re making big strides in mobile. There’s still more to do.”
Yahoo stock has surged since Mayer joined the company, though many analysts attribute that to its 22.6% stake in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, which is gearing up to go public in the U.S. after many months of speculation.
Yahoo is expected to receive a windfall of $10 billion or more from the Alibaba IPO, which it could potentially use for acquisitions and other investments. Mayer declined to provide details on what Yahoo might do with the money, citing the quiet period around the IPO.
“We know that it is of critical importance to our investors how any proceeds are handled and we will continue to be good stewards of capital,” she said.
The company’s stock was down by about 7% in late trading Wednesday amid a broader downturn among Internet stocks.