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Can Marissa Mayer Really Have It All? - The Cut

Stashed in: Silicon Valley!, Women, Yahoo!, @ericries, Awesome, have it all, @marissamayer, HP

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Thank goodness long-form journalism isn't dead. This is a fascinating article and more insightful than the dozens of others I've read in the last few months on Marissa Mayer.

"But putting a pregnancy at the center of a story of corporate ascent is remarkable in itself. That the Yahoo board—and Mayer herself—have so successfully capitalized on it may be evidence, at last, that fertility, intellect, and big ambition can sometimes co-exist. Together they can even be a kind of selling point.

Including Mayer, Yahoo has had five CEOs in the past year. Before the board settled on her, it had, according to news reports, already courted David Rosenblatt, of DoubleClick fame, and Jason Kilar, of Hulu. And so despite its public pledges of support for Mayer the mom, the Yahoo board wasn’t really showing its feminist side, in hiring her, so much as it was praying Hail Mary. “People—men and women both—are more likely to put a woman or minority candidate into a top position when the company is distressed,” Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, says, referring to a phenomenon called the “glass cliff.” “This is a job that kind of nobody wants. The company sucks.” Mayer may have what it takes to run Yahoo, in other words, but her appointment is also a gimmick. She doesn’t want to talk about being a woman, but being a woman—and a pregnant one at that—probably helped her get the job."

I never noticed this before...

People — men and women both — are more likely to put a woman or minority candidate into a top position when the company is distressed...

For this: Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman at HP; Carol Bartz and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo.

Against this: John W. Thompson at Symantec; Anne Mulcahy and Ursula Burns at Xerox; Ginni Romnetty at IBM.

Conclusion: inconclusive.

Yes and other examples would be struggling Fortune 500 companies who didn't choose to install a woman or minority at the head, and if there's a greater percentage of women and minority Fortune 500 CEOs who were installed when their respective companies were in peril than not. 20 Women CEOS of Fortune 500 companies, I wonder which companies...

No discernable pattern among the 20 women CEOs that I can see.

I did find Marissa Mayer answering how she got ahead to illuminate her personality.

She was aggressive in pursuing the opportunities she found.

So is the implication that Yahoo should become the website for women?

McClure seemed to suggest this.

I don't think they imply that. I think the story is a human interest one, not a business story. And it seems that while she has a distinctly feminine persona, I'm not sure there's evidence that Yahoo's products would bend that way.

Mobile, Search, Ads, Content, Mail, Photos, and Commerce. Possibly sell search, mail, and photos. My armchair CEO contribution ...

Sorry but Yahoo is not giving up search.

To your point, they're not focusing on women, either.

Well I guess search would be one of her core competences. :) She basically has in her head both the evolution of everything Google has done, and it's future roadmap, which ultimately I think is the most plausible reason she was hired. If Google is the web darling (Apple being from a previous era and a different kind of company) who is the absolute best hire for Yahoo? A: someone who was burned by Google, but also privy to years of C-level strategic decisions on product, business, and hiring.

She's had no high-profile hires from Google yet.

Perhaps that will change soon.

If you were/are a high profile Googler, what would compel you to want to go to Yahoo? Google's doing R&D for the next 30 years of tech evolution, and Marissa (nor anyone at Yahoo) has articulated even a product plan for today!

On the other hand Yahoo has endless possibilities.

So you could go to Yahoo and propose something and if it gets the greenlight, full steam ahead!

I've argued that Marissa's decision to rush back to the office sends the wrong message to Yahoo!

1) Don't bother to have a family

2) We're so fucked up, the CEO can't stay away from the office for more than a week

I'm sure it's what she wants to do, but as a CEO, sometimes you have to do what makes sense for others, not yourself.

That's a great point, Chris.

But she already made that decision when she took the job in July, so it appears to have been her plan all along.

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