Book Review: Marissa Mayer And The Fight To Save Yahoo

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo
by Nicholas Carlson

I’ll be honest, I’m a huge fan of Marissa Mayer, mostly because I think that she’s a bit like me, someone who pushes hard to get ahead in her career.  The difference being that she was lucky to be part of a startup (Google) that became huge.  Me, not so much. So I couldn’t wait to read this book.

I love to learn and be exposed to new opportunities so for me reading this book was a treat.  I’ve never read a biography on people or businesses, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But having read this book I have to say that the only disappointing bit of it is that there’s no ending.  For those of you who follow Marissa’s career and Yahoo’s on-goings know that the fight isn’t over. And the reason the ending was so disappointing is because the book is so well written.  It’s like reading a day time drama. You really want to get to the part where Marissa succeeds, or doesn’t.  But that’s still a story in development.

This is what I really liked about this book, from a career perspective, I learned about M&A (mergers and acquisitions), well numerous failed attempts anyway.  I learned about shareholder hostilities. I learned some rules on stock ownership.  I learned a lot about what it’s like to be an MNC (multi-national corporation) and the adventures of dealing with shareholders and corporate deals.

The biggest lesson that I learned is that CEOs are humans as well.  It was quite easy to point out the areas where Marissa screwed up, and where she could have done a better job. But then at some point in the book there’s a realization that she has 12,500 people reporting to her. And not everyone that reports to her is a star, especially when she’s running at 100 mph herself.  She put on some big shoes and stepped into one huge pile of poo.

The Yahoo portal is a lot bigger than I ever realized.  I knew about a few of the sections, like videos, email, search, news, but some of the others on women’s fashion, etc.; it’s daunting.  All I can say is that Marissa is brave and a champ for putting up with such a challenge.  Knowing that the battle is really between her and the shareholders I can understand why this book wasn’t written without her or Yahoo’s PR consent.  But as a fan of hers I really wish there was more transparency.

The book provides a very good history of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer and some of the key people involved.  It’s really worth a read.

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