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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer tells employees her turnaround strategy

Marissa Mayer tells employees she plans to again make Yahoo an everyday part of people's lives, reigniting user growth and generating more advertising dollars.

September 26, 2012|By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Can Marissa Mayer save Yahoo Inc.?

That's the question Mayer tried to address in an all-hands employee meeting Tuesday as she laid out in very broad strokes her game plan for turning around the troubled Internet company.

She also continued to shake up the executive ranks, announcing that Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse would leave the company. Morse, who kept a tight rein on finances since he took over the job in 2009, will be replaced by Ken Goldman, the finance chief of Fortinet who has three decades of experience at software and Internet companies, including Siebel Systems and Sybase.

Mayer, a longtime Google executive who became Yahoo's chief executive in July, has been reviewing the business. From a stage at the company's Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters, she told Yahoo employees that she plans to again make Yahoo an everyday part of people's lives, reigniting user growth and generating more advertising dollars.

Many of her talking points echoed her predecessors' with pledges to attract engineering talent from promising young companies, shift focus on smartphones and tablets as users migrate to mobile devices from the desktop and narrow Yahoo's products to those only with the greatest promise.

In an emailed statement, Yahoo said: "We don't comment on rumors, speculation or internal matters. We will have more to share about our approach to building Yahoo's future at our next earning's call, which is in mid-October."

Larry Haverty, a portfolio manager at Gamco Investors Inc., which owns Yahoo shares, said he thinks Wall Street is undervaluing the stock. He points to four factors: Yahoo has begun to cash out a big chunk of its stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., it has overhauled its board of directors, it is still a major player in display advertising on the Internet, and Mayer brings impressive credentials — and credibility — to the company.

"Presumably she has something to bring to the party," Haverty said. "The stock ought to be worth more. Looking at the stock today there are more ways for it to go up than for it to go down."

Yahoo shares slipped 33 cents to $15.68 on Tuesday.

BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis said there's no evidence yet that Mayer has many bold new ideas to stanch three debilitating years of declining revenue and market share losses to Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. Instead she faces the same challenges that stymied a long line of CEOs before her who tried and failed to reboot Yahoo, he said.

"I have been covering this company for so long that I have seen the movie too many times. Yahoo keeps changing the lead role but they never change the ending," Gillis said.

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

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