Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

  • by Nicholas Carlson
  • Narrated by Kiff VandenHeuvel
  • 11 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A pause-register, warts-and-all narrative about Marissa Mayer's efforts to remake Yahoo as well as her own rise from Stanford University undergrad to CEO of a $30 billion corporation by the age of 38.
When Yahoo hired star Google executive Mayer to be its CEO in 2012 employees rejoiced. They put posters on the walls throughout Yahoo's California headquarters. On them there was Mayer's face and one word: HOPE. But one year later, Mayer sat in front of those same employees in a huge cafeteria on Yahoo's campus and took the beating of her life. Her hair wet and her tone defensive, Mayer read and answered a series of employee-posed questions challenging the basic elements of her plan. There was anger in the room and, behind it, a question: Was Mayer actually going to be able to do this thing?
Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! is the inside story of how Yahoo got into such awful shape in the first place, Marissa Mayer's controversial rise at Google, and her desperate fight to save an Internet icon.
In August 2011 hedge fund billionaire Daniel Loeb took a long look at Yahoo and decided to go to war with its management and board of directors. Loeb then bought a five percent stake and began a shareholder activist campaign that would cost the jobs of three CEOs before he finally settled on Google's golden girl Mayer to unlock the value lurking in the company. As Mayer began to remake Yahoo from a content company to a tech company, an internal civil war erupted.
In author Nicholas Carlson's capable hands, this riveting audiobook captures Mayer's rise and Yahoo's missteps as a dramatic illustration of what it takes to grab the brass ring in Silicon Valley. And it reveals whether it is possible for a big lumbering tech company to stay relevant in today's rapidly changing business landscape.

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The Inside Story

Mayer took over the job of C.E.O. of the troubled Yahoo Company, in a male-dominated industry while pregnant. Nicholas Carlson’s book set out to reveal the controversy about Mayer because she was upsetting the women’s issues industrial complex. Some people upset because she took maternity leave right after accepting the job of C.E.O. and the other people upset because she only took two weeks leave.

The book is really two books in one, as a good portion of the book is the history of Yahoo. It’s history of brand neglect and mismanagement. The remainder is about Mayer. There is little documentation in the book regarding Mayer as it appears Carlson reported a lot of the gossip. I got the feeling from the book that Carlson reported a lot of the sexist gossip such as the name of the designer of the clothes Mayer wore etc.

Carlson demonstrates that Mayer is worth paying attention to for reasons that transcend gender. He states that Mayer is a complex personality who defies most stereotypes. Carlson states that Mayer early in her career understood personal branding and developed hers early in her career. She is a geek that doesn’t look the part. Carlson argues Mayer earned her shot at running Yahoo through years of innovative thinking in an industry that prides itself in novel ideas.

Mayer was born in Wisconsin and joined Google right out of Stanford University graduate Computer Science Program. She ultimately became one of Google’s most influential executives. As with any fast raising career person she generated jealousy and resentment from some of her co-workers. Just like many other in her field she put in the hard work, long hours and creative abilities to raise though the ranks of a company.

The question isn’t whether Mayer can save Yahoo; it’s whether Yahoo can be saved at all. For the past two years Mayer has attempted to focus on making the company’s workforce more productive and on making applications for Mobil phones with some success. She has managed to prevent mass layoffs. But Yahoo is a deeply troubled company. Carlson says she is having trouble replacing a few critical key people and without doing so she will not success. Carlson states that even if Yahoo fails Mayer is a star to watch. She has an incredible work ethic, genius sense of what makes an Internet product useable and she was worldwide frame, and charisma to success in the business world. Kitt Vandenheuvel narrated the book.
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- Jean "I am an avid eclectic reader."

Engaging story of Yahoo! and the tech industry

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

The book is truly engaging, whether you care about Yahoo! or not. While Marissa's leadership as the CEO at the internet giant makes for an great read on its own, the backstory to the organization, the role it has played in the tech industry, and all the other leaders that molded it over the years really makes this book captivating and hard to put away.

The author does a fantastic job of giving us both the good and bad sides to each of the individuals and orgs involved. That being said, be prepared to take in an entire spectrum of characters, from Yahoo's humble beginnings to its current state; while the title suggests this being purely the story of Marissa, it is more than that.

In many ways you can't really understand Mayer and her actions at Yahoo without understanding where both came from, but if you're planning on reading this only for her story, be prepared to absorb much much more. While the book flows very well and the structure and timeline really engages you, it is important to note that its subject matter is detailed and will cover ALL the players in tech industry in general, and at Yahoo specifically, rather than just Marissa Mayer.


Who was your favorite character and why?

Filo. As a co-founder, he stayed out of the corporate limelight and was the only constant in the organization. When Yahoo! started out, he just wanted to stay at the ground level, helping with development, dressing casually, working out of a cube. And that's the way he stayed the entire time.


Which scene was your favorite?

Marissa's FYI meeting with the story book. As the author broke down all the events that led to that meeting and her actions on the stage at URLs that day, I continued to wonder about a million different reasons why her actions were at once detrimental and brilliant.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes! Absolutely. I bought the book because unlike most folks I have been an avid user of the internet ever since its commercial inception since the early 90s. I remember how unfriendly it was. I have seen internet companies come and go. I was one of the original Yahoo! users that saw it emerge as a blessing for all and then become a convoluted mess. And through it all, I wondered why it fell from grace. This book answered all my questions and then some. I bought the book to listen to on a 4-hour car ride. I ended up listening to it every chance I got even after that; at the gym, while doing work around the house, heck... even when just getting dressed for work in the morning.


Any additional comments?

If any of the following applies to you, you'll enjoy this book. If none of it applies to you, you may not:
1) You've been a "techy" your entire life.
2) You've been interested in the evolution of the internet.
3) You've had a love/hate relationship with Yahoo! (or any of their products).
4) You're interested in corporate management of tech companies.

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- S. H. C.

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-06-2015
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio