Monday, March 4, 2013

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures:Yahoo CEO is Poised for the Challenge

Yahoo CEO Declares “No Pain, no Gain” Policies, and sparks fly. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s New CEO, makes a gutsy move, as she dares to go against the grain to get the company back on track. Marissa Mayer was brought in to turn the company around, and given the steep decline in valuation, a new vision and direction is drastically in order. As the saying goes; “desperate times cause for desperate measures”, and Mayer has declared telecommuting a “No, No”, among other new policies. In an apparent move to bolster innovation and collaboration within the company, Marissa Mayer has taken a very unpopular step toward reinventing Yahoo, and rebuilding their value and competitive edge.
Over a decade ago, when Yahoo was the technology darling of NASDAQ, it traded as high as $445 a share (Jan 1999) - while today it trades under $25 per share. That said, the dynamic CEO certainly has her work cut out for her. As brilliant as she is beautiful, Mayer broke the gender barrier at Google, as being the first female engineer there. Often described as “tough as nails” Mayer rose through the ranks – steadily up the Google management ladder, but seemed to have recently been overlooked for Larry Page’s Senior Leadership Team. Perhaps that made it a whole lot easier for Mayer to say goodbye to Google.

After an exhaustive search, for their next CEO, Yahoo stunned the tech community when they crowned Marissa Mayer as their next Chief Executive. In just six months, Yahoo’s newest CEO has created firestorm of media attention, and an unrelenting buzz, even rising to thelevel of outrage at times. This could be both good and bad for the company, but time will tell which way the pendulum will ultimately swing in that regard

Technology advancements have pushed the envelope in favor of telecommuting, while the troubled economy forced corporations of all sizes to rethink their policies and staffing structures. The global fiscal crisis created an opportunity for corporations to develop creative staffing and compensation structures to optimize space and costs. The tech companies had already created a blueprint that was implemented in varying degrees over the past decade.

So why is the move away from Telecommuting so controversial? In this age of advanced technology, the internet and wireless communication fostered globalization, and with it came the Telecommuting. Multinational corporations and small companies alike sought to optimize efficiency and costs by implementing mixed workforce (sometimes in different countries) which gave prominence to remote work options. Telecommuting has become a high accepted and commonly utilized working method, particularly for younger, innovative companies. A highly positive perception of Tech firms stem from the fact that the technology firms of the 21st century emphasized the importance of employee satisfaction concepts that promote employee-centric policies in support of work/life balance.

Meanwhile, a simple ban on telecommuting initiated by Yahoo’s CEO has sparked a major controversy - as tech experts voice their argument in for or against Mayer’s policy. For the record, Forbes has cited their support for Mayer’s Policy, while a Bloomberg contributor (Slayer) views the decision as daunting. Is Mayer’s decision to reverse the Telecommuting policy at Yahoo prompting fear that corporations that bought into employee-centric life/work concepts will dial back on their family friendly policies? Many strategists and analyst claim that this drastic change may be seen as a blow to working women, yielding a negative perception of Yahoo. Citing the “working woman” will be disproportionately impacted by any shift away from telecommuting. Well, you might be surprised to learn that although working women are perceived to the hardest hit by any trending policy away from telecommuting, it is actually men that will feel it the most. As it happens, the male population makes up the lion’s share of the telecommuters, yielding 73 % of the total number of remote workers in this country.

Nevertheless, this whole spectacle seems odd, and yet so telling of how powerful Marissa Mayer actually is. It is almost as if the future of Telecommuting is riding on this one decision, particularly due to the high profile of Yahoo, being one of THE most visible brands in the world. The fact is, Mayer has a sound strategy to get the company culture back to cutting edge innovation. In the spirit of mavericks like Steve Jobs, there’s a need for “all hands on deck” attitude to shake the company up. In all fairness, given Mayer’s Degree in engineering and Masters in Science Technology, she is far more suited for the challenge than her predecessors. The 4th quarter earnings report yields a 26% increase, year over year. That's a clear indication that Mayer's strategy is already having a positive impact on the company.

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K Reilly
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