Marissa Mayer’s Turnaround Strategy for Yahoo
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By Nicholas Carlson,
The Business Insider
September 24, 2012

After two months on the job, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will, on Tuesday, announce to employees her "strategy and vision" for turning around the company, Kara Swisher of All Things D reports.

In a memo sent out Friday and later obtained by Swisher, Mayer told Yahoo employees that she will, during the two-part Tuesday meeting, share with them the same presentation she gave to Yahoo's board during meetings last week.

Mayer also wrote that Yahoo will change the way it compensates employees, giving them new incentives.

So, what's in the plan Mayer will outline?

We've heard from sources close to Mayer's thinking that her turnaround will focus on Yahoo's homepage and search.

Designing the way Google search looks to consumers made Mayer rich and famous, and search is a pure profit center for Yahoo, so this is a strategy emphasis you could see coming for miles.

Mayer's focus will probably be on improving the way search looks and feels on Yahoo.com, not the actual algorithmic tech behind the curtain, which Microsoft now provides. It would be insanely expensive for Yahoo to cancel that deal. Though, Swisher reports that Mayer has met with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss the deal and Mayer has certainly proven unafraid of short term costs in favor of long term games. So who knows.

Swisher also reports that Mayer will focus the company on 8 additional "key" products.

After conversations with a bunch of sources over the past few weeks, we're certain of 5 of 8: Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Mail, Flickr, IntoNow.

Swisher reports that Mail and Homepage are already being redesigned, with a focus on a more social experience with fewer ads and more links out. Last week, we noticed that Yahoo has begun to push its mobile TV-watching app, IntoNow through banner ads on its site. A source has since confirmed this app is getting a lot of attention from the big boss.

Another key to Mayer's turnaround plan will be Yahoo's ad tech.

A couple weeks ago, Yahoo ad boss Michael Barrett told Ad Age's Jason Del Ray that Yahoo would not be selling its ad tech businesses. This reflected a change in plans at Yahoo under Mayer; her interim predecessor, Ross Levinsohn, was close to securing a sale of those assets to Google. This move is a huge gamble on Mayer's part, as outsourcing ad tech would have pretty much guaranteed cost reductions and, in turn, profit growth for Yahoo.

Now, reports Swisher, Mayer is not only seeking to keep and invest in Yahoo's ad tech, she's also put several executives on a mission to augment the business through acquisition. Swisher says Yahoo is looking at buying ad tech companies including Mediaocean, Turn, Criteo, PubMatic and Millennial Media.

The money to pay for those potential acquisitions comes, in part, from the proceeds Yahoo netting after selling part of its stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba.

Yahoo sold the stake for $4.3 billion after taxes and will keep $650 million of it, returning the rest to shareholders. Sometime in the medium term, Yahoo will also sell some of its stake in Yahoo Japan, netting another few billion dollars. We still owe you a story on the state of those negotiations.

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