Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stepped into a difficult situation when she first joined the company in 2012.
The company was already in decline and it wasn’t clear how it wanted to revitalize the business. A number of CEOs had damaged their reputations trying to save Yahoo before her. The company’s been stuck in perennial drama and dysfunction over the past decade.
Four years in, and Mayer’s quest to save Yahoo is still far from over. But it may be nearing the end as activist investors have joined the Yahoo’s board, hastening the prospect of the company being sold.
In any case, there’s a lot to be learned from Mayer’s struggles to turnaround Yahoo. Here are a few lessons, according to a Quora thread discussing this topic:
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It’s really, really hard to change a company culture.
“And, it’s even more difficult to change when the company has been struggling like Yahoo.
When you work at a company like this for a long time (Eleven years in my case, Thirteen years at Google in Mayer’s case), you believe you can do just about anything. And you develop a strong belief that no matter what situation you are dropped into, you will come out victorious.” — Brett Fox, Former CEO @ Touchstone Semiconductor, GM at Micrel, EIR at Crosslink Capital
You can’t buy your way into growth.
“Yahoo had a chance, but it didn’t lie with the dumb acquisitions Marissa made, nor her hirings (Henrique de Castro, anyone?), both staid, moribund plays that establishment companies make. Which is fine, but in and of itself, is not innovation, much less entrepreneurship.” — JP Kaneshida
Know when to say “NO.”
“I get it – Marissa is bright, determined, capable, and wanted to show that off in a spectacular way. Given the opportunity to ‘turn around Yahoo,’ it’s almost an irresistible challenge.
Problem is, none of her prior experience prepared her for this. Like, at all.” — Stan Hanks, Serial Entrepreneur since age 12