Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!
Nicholas Carlson
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Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!
Nicholas Carlson
368 pages
January 2015
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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It is difficult to envision today that Yahoo! predates Google by more than three years and that, at the turn of the century, Yahoo! was the go-to Internet company and not Google. The paths of the two companies diverged considerably; it is Google whose eponymous search engine is used as a verb, while Yahoo! is known more for its astute investment in Alibaba than for its search prowess. To show how the two companies--Yahoo! and Google--are joined at the hip, the book traces the vicissitudes of Marissa Mayer, the highly photogenic CEO of the former, who landed her job after a high-profile career at Google. By using a number of sources and voluminous secondary research, Nicholas Carlson gives us a riveting fly-on-the-wall portrait of both a charismatic company and a CEO who seems to have it all.

Having survived the death throes of the Internet bust in 2000, Yahoo!ís fortunes began to nosedive a few years later. Perhaps it was its confused identity--was it a technology company or was it a media company?--or a lack of leadership. Whatever the cause was, it went through CEOs in quick succession, culminating in the embarrassingly short tenure of Scott Thompson, who exited the company because he had falsified his resume. Enter Marissa Mayer. With her considerable success at Google, Yahoo!ís board of directors believed they had struck gold when they hired her to lead Yahoo!. Carlson traces the arc of Mayerís tenure as Yahoo!ís CEO--much of the gold has turned to dust, and even her vaunted product expertise hasnít led to revenue growth at Yahoo!.

Carlson is a Silicon Valley insider in that he has covered technology companies for many years. It shows both in his writing and in his voluminous Rolodex of contacts that he uses to give us a plausible portrait of a company and its inner workings.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Ram Subramanian, 2015

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