back to article I can turn Yahoo! around claims hedge fund manager

An "activist investor" has sent a 99-page hate letter to Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer arguing for her ousting and outlining a range of changes that would boost the troubled company's share price by $30 a share. Despite five CEOs over ten years having tried and failed to turn the one-time online giant Yahoo! around, the head of New …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > Once the workforce is cut, it should lease the now-empty parts of its headquarters it no longer needs.

    So this is the answer folks.

    Convert Yahoo into a real estate company.

    Instead of generating revenue by innovation, downsize to a rent-seeking parasite.

    Yahoo has a lot of problems, but what this guy is proposing isn't to fix the company, but strip it of its assets.

    He might be right, but let's be more honest about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Funny you should say that

      my employer, a smallish specialised software company owned by a British engineering company was flogged off on the cheap to an American company so the parent company could pay off a bit of a loan on a new building. The previous CEO of the former parent company was much more interested in using the pleasant green, leafy site with listed manor house as a property empire than the core business - he has retired (doubtless to a supervillain extinct volcano somewhere) but the company is clearly struggling. Meanwhile somewhere on continental Europe a very similar company has concentrated on the core business and has absolutely boomed.

      (Anon for half hearted self preservation reasons)

    2. The Boojum

      Well it's an alternative to turning it into a fund manager.

    3. Planty Bronze badge

      What they need is to trick people into installing an app that forces everything to use yahoo. Perhaps they could do a deal with oracle to have this trick bundled with java and perhaps make it opt out...

      Damn, they beat me to it....

      OK then, perhaps they could win people over by not being evil scumbags and offering services that people want to use and not tricked into using...

  2. FF22

    Just as biased

    This article seems just as biased in favor of Marissa, as it claims the original letter is against her.

    I don't know whether Yahoo is salvageable, but one thing is clear: she had more than enough time to make changes at Yahoo, and she failed to turn around the sinking ship. If it could have been done, it's her fault, for not making it. If it could not have been done, it's her fault because of not recognizing that.

    Marissa failed, no matter what. Unfortunately, that will not prevent, but actually help her land another CEO job at a different (but most likely larger) tech company, once the Yahoo ship finally hits the ocean floor.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Just as biased

      Not sure which article you read. Dismissive of the guys points yes, supportive of Marissa? Not if you can read.

      1. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: Just as biased

        American business culture is a creche for narcissistic idiots.

        Apparently that includes Meyer as well as this guy, whoever he is - and the !!!Y!a!h!o!o!!! Board, who should perhaps have asked a few awkward questions about Meyer's many acquisitions.

        Meanwhile she's done just fine for herself, so she'll probably be running for President in 2026.

  3. tolstoshev

    What! Happened! To! Having! The! Title! Of! Any! Yahoo! Article! In! All! Exclamation! Points!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shocking, isn't it?

    2. Charles Manning

      They're so broke they can't even afford enough !s any more.

      Marissa was a bullshit hire - window dressing for the invesduhs. A cute person from high up in Google... sounds impressive. Google were going great guns, so it sounded plausible.

      But all she's really done is:

      1) Micromanage marketing by coming up with the new "innovation" of lilting the !.

      2) Getting rid of various perks and flexible working hours etc that developers appreciate. Nett result: the good ones leave, the bad ones who can't find new jobs stay.

      3) Lots of parties (Marissa loves shopping for party dresses).

      Unfortunately what Yahoo really needed was a tough person who understands business.

      1. skeptical i
        Thumb Down

        That 'splains it.

        re: "Nett result: the good [developers] leave, the bad ones who can't find new jobs stay." That would explain why yahoo's tech support (which might not have been the best but at least existed, and at one point had some good staffers) now consists of a user "forum" that contains more "why isn't [yet another problem] fixed?" posts than solutions. And explain why every new iteration of yahoomail has a part that is broken, no option to keep using any previous versions that DID work, and of course no tech support people to offer workarounds or, heaven forfend, FIX the problems with the mandatory new versions. If this is how yahoo approaches all of its products, no wonder they're losing relevance.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jackson might have a different agenda...

    He doesn't need to have a solution, as long as his conveniently leaked presentation causes enough of a stir (and some small changes) to *temporarily* boost the share price a litte. Then he sells off his shares and got what he wanted.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: Jackson might have a different agenda...

      Exactly. His plans are pure profit for himself (oh... there's other investor also). By doing what it looks like Yahoo is doing (selling off the core and keeping the Alibaba investment) they'll be implementing everything he wants. Just a few employees left, small real estate footprint, etc. Oh... and no free lunches for staff.

      Personally, I think "activist investors" ought to be shot on sight as all they ever do is strip a company down to the bones and let was is left rot as the investor gleefully count his/her profits.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Jackson might have a different agenda...

      Ayups, that's why those hedgefund companies are best to be left untrusted. Still, he would hold true to his word: he'd turn the company around from a semi-healthy company to a run-out company. Quite the turn around indeed ;)

  5. a_yank_lurker

    Pump and Dump

    This smells more of a Pump and Dump scam so he can get out with tidy profit. The SEC should be watching.

    The Putrid Purple does have lots of problems and I am not sure anyone can turn it around.

  6. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Nice buildings, good location

    There's probably not enough to salvage at Yahoo. Their accounts are constantly getting hijacked, they stopped having unique products years ago, the codebase is layers of legacy patches, the portal designs spew too many trashy ads to be functional, and a Yahoo e-mail address is a really good spam indicator. Yahoo could vanish and the world would get over it in a couple of days. The biggest losers would "customer loyalty" companies having millions of throw-away e-mail addresses that can no longer be claimed to be live customers.

    1. ratfox

      Re: Nice buildings, good location

      I'm not interested in sports, but Yahoo finance is still really good in my opinion.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nice buildings, good location

      It could have been salvaged circa 2005-2007.

      It had the ISP email market pretty much to itself. What did it do? It let it fester and putrify. It could and should have built on that (portals, sp software, etc) as this was the mother of all long-term lock-ins. Did it build on it, hell no. It could not even be bothered to collect requirements from customers and let a number of contracts (at least in the UK) go to hell by hiring locally only numpties on contract and insisting that everything has to be invented in the Silly Valley.

      Marissa _DID_ _NOTHING_ to change that culture. In fact she made the company even more silly valley centered with nothing outside. She failed to learn some of the key lessons from the rise of Google. It rose because it was not just a Silly Valley company. Similarly, it will fall one day as its Silly Valley component has grown to black-hole size and is sucking everything into it.

      Yahoo could be changed then. At that time it had the right markets and could have been turned around if the CEO and all of his lieutenants promoting the "not invented here" culture were executed on the spot. Double bonus as it would have prevented the descent into feuding do-nothing culture over time.

      Now - forget it.

    3. The Boojum

      Re: Nice buildings, good location

      And that last is reason enough to pull the plug.

  7. HonestAbe

    Circle of Life

    Anyone who's ever seen buzzards fighting over a carcass recognizes this scene. Rending it to and fro, sometimes even lifting it into the air for a second or two.

    It's all over for a Silicon Valley company when it becomes too sick to outrun the bean counters and marketers any longer. RIP Yahoo, and so many others recently.

  8. qzdave

    Good stuff in there

    It's easy to dismiss the activist investors as arrogant loud-mouths but sometimes what they say is good for the normal guy on the street with a bit invested.

    I read most of the presentation and avoided The Reg's guided tour of the content. Yes, there were kind of nit-picky comments about fee lunches etc. But it also raised great questions. What about all those worthless acquisitions, many bought from her personal friends? Yahoo don't seem to have any business controls, any vision and less and less relevance. I thought the suggestion that they focus on getting better day by day on sport and business on mobile (and avoiding acquisition splurges) made a lot of sense. It's difficult to see how the strategy purported could be worse than what's going on now.

    A question though - no mention of Yahoo 360 - did anyone here use it? IIRC they had Facebook before Facebook, and then discontinued it. Surprised that didn't make the list of f-ups, 'cos I quite liked it and don't understand what happened.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good stuff in there

      About Yahoo 360: they're not the only ones who had Facebook before Facebook. There were other social networks which worked to various degrees before Facebook came out. However, a social network is nothing without users, so if people didn't use it, there was no point in keeping it. And when Facebook became the place to be, all other social networks died from lack of users.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good stuff in there

        ah - FriendsReunited. that had some good traction until the founders sold out to ITV which to me at the time seemed an odd company to be buying it. and then - death. in the hands of someone else, FRU could have gone places

  9. Known Hero


    I can save it, Just make me CEO give us a paycheck of a couple of million per year and I will tell you anything. Hell I'll tell you the biggest pile of bullshit just to get that paycheck !!

  10. Graham Triggs

    £5 says this is a sexist arsehole who thinks women shouldn't be running companies.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Probably right, but also...

      Yes, he probably doubly damns this CEO because she's woman, but I suspect he is the sort of lice-comber who really only sees nits, and would gleefully point at the failings of anyone.

      I think investors who never actually put in money to help start a company, but just buy into a going concern so it will rain pennies on their heads, have little savvy to offer about the actual running of a company. Not that I think Yahoo! is well-run, but I don't think Jehovah Himself could make a success of the Y.

    2. Anonymous Coward


      There's plenty to damn him about in his letter without adding imagined attributes.


      Just to clarify;

      If a person criticises a woman for doing a terrible job, this does not equal sexism.

      If a person ONLY criticises women or finds issue with the womens gender, then that is sexism.

      If a person ONLY criticises men or finds issue with the men's gender, then that is also sexism.

  11. tiggity Silver badge

    Map APIs was their best product (best maps product by far for ease of use)

    Yahoo maps APIs used to be excellent until that was canned several years ago (4?).

    Well thought out APIs, much easier to use than Google / MS map APIs for all the "typical" mapping functions

    No rate limit, so ideal for small company / one man band usage as you did not have the dilemma of a peak of customer usage meaning either lots of cash outlay to upgrade contract or your maps no longer working due to rate exceeded.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He only wants to turn Yahoo! around... he can shaft it from behind a bit more easily.

  13. TeeCee Gold badge

    Just one thing.

    And that answer is: bean-counting.

    Anyone know what was the incredibly fucking stupid question actually asked?

    (Hint: If you're ever in a company "focussing on costs" to "drive up shareholder value", leave. It's already standing on the bankruptcy court's doorstep and hammering on the door.)

  14. Captain Server Pants

    Yahoo!'s old search results used to be a hierarchical directory

    I loved the old Yahoo! navigable directory. Once they moved away from the browse friendly directory results the company died IMO.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    How to improve Yahoo?

    Stop making it the daily sport / OK! of the internet.

    Quit with the massive flash ads

    Quit with the obsession with z-list talentless celebs

    Stop with pushing fad diets

    Put email back to being email, and not some sort of spamvertisment mechanism

    Search that actually works (and in email as well)

    Reduce the number of pictures on the home page, it's like a 90's Geocities site (yes the irony isn't lost)

    In other words, stop being the gutter press peddler of the internet and attempt to be a little more serious.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just shoot it, already!!!

    If that doesn't work, a stake through the heart. Yahoo is taking longer to die than a third rate bit-part actor in a B-Movie...

    Please, won't someone end it? Please?

  17. EPurpl3

    She tried everything to make Yahoo a giant again, cool parties, lobby, publicity, scandals, hype, new logo, etc. What she has missed is to make Yahoo useful again for the users. Boosting the number of ads without boosting the number of new users is the worst policy possible. Really, if I travel to another country I can't even authenticate. WTF, that's totally not user friendly and is not logical...

  18. Florida1920

    Four rules for success

    1. Never draw to an inside straight

    2. Never play billiards against a guy named "Slim"

    3. Never sleep with anyone whose troubles are greater than yours

    4. Never invest in a company named Yahoo!

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