Marissa Mayer was the toast of Silicon Valley. She initially solidified her place in history as Google’s first female engineer. She then went on to become the president and CEO of storied Internet company Yahoo!. At 37 years old, she was the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company ever. Now, just 4 short years later, she’s on her way out. What happened?
On January 10, Mayer announced she’d be resigning from Yahoo!’s board of executives. She’s one of 6 high-profile departures from the board, but of course, she’s the most notable. Mayer has maintained she’ll step down once Verizon’s acquisition of Yahoo! Is complete. That deal has been in motion since last year, when Verizon shelled out almost $5 billion for the company.
When the acquisition was first announced, Mayer said she had no plans to leave. However, a multitude of problems have continued to plague her tenure at the aging company. And it remains unclear if her exit from the board means an exit from the company altogether.
Where Did Marissa Mayer Go Wrong?
Perhaps the mission was an impossible one from the get go. Marissa Mayer was tasked with saving a company that was up against tech giants like Google and Apple. She needed to make Yahoo! cool again but that was an uphill battle.
She was the company’s seventh CEO, according to USA Today. That meant she was jumping aboard the Titanic when it was already capsizing.
Mayer’s biggest problem was her penchant for high-ticket acquisitions that never provided return on the investment. In 2013, she authorized the $1.1 billion purchase of social media site Tumblr. However, Tumblr never turned a profit, instead costing the company millions in operating fees.
In mid 2015, Mayer also spearheaded Katie Couric’s $10 million deal with the company. She placed a big bet on Couric to get ahead with premiere video content. Couric found herself at the center of a news scandal last year. It was revealed that she’d edited the gun control documentary Under the Gun to falsify select scenes.
There were also two huge hacks that exposed sensitive information for more than 1 billion Yahoo! accounts.
To make matters worse, there was a barrage of lawsuits and accusations from male employees alleging discrimination and harmful workplace practices.
The Verizon acquisition still isn’t in the bag just yet. According to NBC’s TODAY show, the recent hacks could jeopardize the sale. They could be deemed breaches of contract. Whichever way Verizon moves, it’s clear that the future of Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! is up in the air.
Yahoo! was a gamble for Mayer that didn’t pay off. Now, with the company’s very public misfortunes, her time with the company could leave a black cloud over her career. However, at the tender age of 41, she has more than enough time to bounce back.