There was a time when Yahoo’s offerings could consume hours a day, and trying to regain that moment in time was really hard.We could make the products really good, but regaining that contextual relevance that was afforded to Yahoo in 1999 and the early 2000s was difficult.To get the people who are really aligned with the mission, you want to make sure that they’re fairly compensated, but not necessarily motivated by that compensation.I had a strategy both at Yahoo and at Google of “meet, not beat.” It’s the trade-off between mercenaries and missionaries.
Marissa Mayer was celebrated as a savior when she left Google to become chief executive of Yahoo in 2012. Mayer was the 20th employee at Google, and influenced many of the company’s signature features — including Gmail and Google Maps. The company was reeling from boardroom tumult and a series of executive changeovers when she arrived, and Google and Facebook were winning the war for online eyeballs and ad dollars. I remember running up those steps, because if you didn’t get here fast enough on Saturday morning, someone in the world was going to get worse search results, and it might change their life for the worse. So I’ve been meeting with different founders and just seeing what’s happening in the industry.
This is also where Pay Pal started, so there’s a lot of good juju here.
So this is actually the office where I started my career in 1999.
Returning it to the pre-eminence in its users’ daily lives, where it used to be people were on Yahoo for half an hour to many hours a day. All we really managed to do was offset the declines.
Yahoo had to deal with some nasty shareholder activist campaigns, and several readers asked about your thoughts on activism.