CEO set to exit as Yahoo ends run as independent firm

Ms Marissa Mayer became Yahoo's CEO in 2012, and went on a buying spree that included a US$1 billion acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr.
Ms Marissa Mayer became Yahoo's CEO in 2012, and went on a buying spree that included a US$1 billion acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr.PHOTO: NYTIMES

SAN FRANCISCO • Ms Marissa Mayer was hailed as Yahoo's saviour when she took charge of the pioneering Internet firm five years ago.

But Ms Mayer could not stem the decline of the iconic Silicon Valley company, which is set to close a deal today on selling its core Internet operations to telecom giant Verizon.

She is likely headed for the exit as Yahoo ends a two-decade run as an independent company, getting a departure package worth an estimated US$186 million (S$257.4 million).

Ms Mayer, 42, inherited a company in protracted decline, having lost its leadership as an Internet search company to Google and falling behind others like Facebook in serving money-making ads to users.

She joined Google in 1999 as its 20th employee and led efforts for hit products, including its flagship search product and homepage.

Born in a small Wisconsin city, she worked at a grocery store before attending Stanford University, where she studied computer science.

While her intellectual skills qualified her as a nerd, her blonde good looks and star quality put her on the cover of magazines, including Fortune, Vanity Fair and Vogue. Glamour magazine named her "Woman of the Year" in 2009 and she has been on several lists of influential tech personalities.

At Yahoo, where she became CEO in 2012, she went on a buying spree that included a US$1 billion acquisition of blogging platform Tumblr to reach a younger audience. She also cut more than a thousand jobs.

"Buying your way out of a problem like this is rarely going to solve your trouble," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group said.

Yahoo's finances have been skewed by its stake in China's Alibaba. It bought a 40 per cent stake in 2005 for US$1 billion and its current holding is now worth many times that amount, dwarfing the value of its Internet operations.

It also has a multibillion-dollar stake in Yahoo Japan. These holdings will not be transferred to Verizon but remain in a separate entity named "Altaba".

Mr Enderle blamed the Yahoo board, saying it failed to provide Ms Mayer a mentor for a job she had never done before.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2017, with the headline 'CEO set to exit as Yahoo ends run as independent firm'. Print Edition | Subscribe