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Monday, 25 February 2013 22:16

Marvellous Marissa Mayer may make Yahoo! money

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While everybody is busy throwing up their hands in shock and horror over the seemingly draconian 20th century work from the office policy suddenly imposed on the Yahoo! corporation by chief executive Marissa Mayer, some may consider asking the question of whether perhaps she's spot on the money.

Reading from her own bio on Yahoo.net, prior to Yahoo! Marissa Mayer was Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services at Google where she oversaw product management, engineering, design and strategy for the company’s suite of local and geographical products, including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile.

Now that's a pretty impressive resume, outlining a pretty impressive array of products that are among the most successful in the Google kit bag.

Aside from its do no evil mantra, one of the things that Google is renowned for is a close knit corporate culture which revolves around its corporate headquarters known as the Googleplex in Mountain View, as well as more than 70 offices around the world.

At the Googleplex, employees are encouraged to stay at work and mingle with each other as long as possible. In fact, "employees living in San Francisco, the East Bay, or South Bay may take a free wifi-enabled Google shuttle to and from work" (Wikipedia).

From Google: "…visitors to any office can expect to find a few common features: murals and decorations expressing local personality; Googlers sharing cubes, yurts and "huddles"; video games, pool tables and pianos; cafes and "microkitchens" stocked with healthy food; and good old fashioned whiteboards for spur-of-the-moment brainstorming."

The whole philosophy espoused by the internal memo at Yahoo! of "some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings" could come straight out the Google play book.

Ms Mayer, who took just two weeks off after she had a baby last October and believes in the power of groupthink, has obviously identified a marked difference between the way Google culture operates and what has been going on at Yahoo!

And whether one agrees with Ms Mayer or not, there is no denying the difference between the performance of both companies in the past decade.

When disaffected employees at Yahoo! circulate an internal memo that beckons them to come into the office instead of staying at home to work, it demonstrates that there is a cultural issue that company needs to address.

The question is can Ms Mayer successfully transpose the culture that made Google great on to Yahoo!. Is it even worth a try?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the old adage that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.

So the answer is definitely yes. One look at Ms Mayer and her track record suggests quite strongly that this is a person who simply does not believe in failure. Therefore, the prognosis for Yahoo! is starting to look decidedly positive.


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Stan Beer

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Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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