Mayer wants Yahoo to be part of your everyday life

Yahoo's new CEO lays out a broad turnaround plan

When Yahoo's new CEO, Marissa Mayer, addressed company employees Tuesday, she reportedly talked about making Yahoo part of people's everyday lives.

She didn't, however, explain how she plans to do that.

Industry analysts, though, were quick to say that now isn't necessarily the time for Mayer to lay out specifics of her turnaround plan. Now is the time to energize Yahoo's employees and investors. They're hoping that's exactly what Mayer did.

"Marissa Mayer did what she had to do in articulating the broad directions of a fresh strategy for Yahoo that is focused, understandable, appears to leverage the most important industry trends, and gives employees and stakeholders a reason to be optimistic," said Hadley Reynolds, an analyst at NextEra Research. "None of these things had been apparent prior to her arrival."

On Tuesday, Mayer reportedly held two meetings to accommodate employees in different time zones. Her goal was to let employees in on her strategy to turn around Yahoo, which has been struggling for market position and has experienced a leadership revolving door and an executive scandal.

The company did not release details of what Mayer said Tuesday. A Yahoo spokeswoman told Computerworld on Tuesday that the company will present some of its long-term strategies during a mid-October conference call to discuss its financial performance.

Despite Yahoo's efforts, word of Mayer's meetings has begun to leak out.

According to a report in All Things D, Mayer stuck to the big picture during her speech. The report said the CEO told employees she wants to focus on building a strong mobile platform, personalization and making Yahoo a part of people's everyday lives.

Reynolds said he had no problem with the reported lack of specifics that Mayer offered.

"The fact that she was not long on details is appropriate at this stage," he added. "She hasn't been on the scene long enough to be talking down in the weeds, and she shouldn't from the CEO seat in any event. The talent that she will be bringing in will have to own many of those details. They will need to talk about them within a quarter or two, but not right now."

However, Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said he would have liked Mayer to fill in a few blanks.

"On the surface, what Mayer is describing is what a 1,000 Internet companies could describe," he said. "What will be vitally important is how Yahoo differentiates what they do in mobile ... and that's possible but not probable. They are a decade behind Google and Facebook. Very rarely does a company come behind after sitting out so long to become the leader."

He also called Mayer's plan to become part of people's lives an "audacious goal."

Brad Shimmin, an analyst with CurrentAnalysis, said convincing Yahoo's user base that the company is committed to mobility will be another challenge.

"I think original content is the key to Yahoo's future," he added. "The company doesn't have to become another Bloomberg or Time Warner in order to succeed here. It merely needs to weave excellent news, opinion, sports, etc., throughout its existing collaboration services to convince users to start their morning with Yahoo."

Shimmin also said Mayer did a good job outlining her plans to Yahoo employees without getting bogged down in details.

"I think, at this point, any effort that rallies the company's assets around a small set of relatable objectives, such as mobility and content, will result in an improved outlook for Yahoo," he said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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