MediaFile

Mayer can’t save Yahoo – because Yahoo can’t be saved

Yahoo eats CEOs. The perennially ailing company lures talented managers into the corner suite of its Silicon Valley headquarters, then it sucks their good reputations out of their veins and casts them aside. They inevitably pass through the revolving door an empty shell of their former selves.

Terry Semel, Jerry Yang, Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson. All took the CEO helm with visions of invigorating Yahoo into an Internet leader for the 21st century. Most became mired in Yahoo’s stubbornly byzantine culture. And all probably collected their severance checks wishing to themselves they’d never heard of the company with its stupid hillbilly name and its superfluous punctuation mark.*

Now it’s Marissa Mayer’s turn. Mayer – an early Google hire who instrumentally forged its successes in search, maps and online email – has become such a positive, likable presence in Silicon Valley that I actually felt sorry for her when I heard it was her time to be Yahoo’s help. A failed tenure as Yahoo’s CEO couldn’t happen to a better-qualified candidate.

Mayer’s appointment was something of a bombshell – many people expected Yahoo would appoint Ross Levinsohn, a seasoned ex-News Corp executive, as CEO. In the Internet industry of 2012, the gambit boils down to advertising versus engineering – which is to say, vision versus monetization. Any good Web company wants the sweet spot that welcomes both. With Levinsohn, Yahoo would have got an ad guy to oversee a product that is largely computer code. With Mayer, Yahoo gets an engineer with executive experience.

Three years ago, Mayer signaled that she was ready for a new company. Mayer, famously, was responsible early on for the invitingly spartan homepage of Google.com. Later she had a hand in core features like Gmail, Google News and Image Search. During her five years as vice-president for Google’s search and user experience, she oversaw some of the company’s biggest projects, balancing the site’s intuitive interface with the need to generate more ad revenue from it.

Struggling Kodak had to pay for CEO’s vacations in Spain

Over the four years that Kodak’s stock fell 80 percent, the photography icon’s private jet made its way several times a year to Vigo, Spain — the balmy fishing town that is the hometown of CEO Antonio Perez.

The Wall Street Journal’s flight tracker for private jet travel makes it easy to trace Perez’s vacations in Spain. It also estimates that the cost of each roundtrip was more than $50,000 a pop.

Starting Jan 1, 2011, Perez’s personal trips on the jet were limited to $100,000 a year. If his flights exceed that amount, Perez has to reimburse Kodak, according to the company’s latest proxy statement. That might come as some relief to investors concerned about the rate that Kodak is burning cash.

Tim Cook’s memo to Apple staff

Whether new Apple CEO Tim Cook can live up to predecessor Steve Jobs’s reputation as the so-called “innovator-in-chief” will take some time to determine. But an email memo sent by Cook to Apple employees early Thursday shows he has no intention of steering Apple away from its current path. “Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values,” Cook said in the message, which was first published by Ars Technica. Read the full memo below:

Team:

I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.

Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.

Tech CEO turns to trusted adviser on key decision; 10-year old daughter

Anyone who thinks the word “executive” in CEO stands for a person who actually executes decisions and strategy should think again, at least according to Technicolor CEO Frederic Rose.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau

REUTERS/Charles Platiau

“It’s very funny, you get a job as a CEO and everyone says you’ve got this absolute power,” Rose told the Reuters Global Media Summit in Paris.

“The reality is, the power you have, the authority you have is to basically guide and to give direction…and if people don’t want to follow, they’ll just forget to do it,”

Oracle is SAP’s own Lord Voldemort

It’s been a while since German business software maker SAP has stated exactly how much of a market share it has.  And no matter how much journalists prod and badger SAP CEO Leo Apotheker he will not divulge that figure. Even when analysts say they believe that SAP’s main rival Oracle has been taking market share from the German company, Apotheker will not be moved to shed some light on the issue.  In several TV interviews on Wednesday, the day SAP presented its second-quarter results, and in a call with analysts, Apotheker not only declined to provide even a range, in fact he could not bring himself to call his company’s fiercest rival by name. “We have about twice as much market share as Number 2,” he said.  In the Harry Potter series the hero is the only one who calls his nemesis by name – Lord Voldemort - instead of ”he who must not be named”.  C’mon Leo, if Harry Potter can do it, so can you.

Axed Porsche CEO tries Robin Hood tactics to bolster blue collar image

Germans love to see the mighty fall just a little bit more than the rest of the world, and freshly ousted Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking is a perfect candidate. Yes, he made tiny, almost bankrupt Porsche successful again but did he have to be so smug about it? And was he really worth the millions of euros he raked in every year in a country where executive pay is a thorny issue? His salary, which made him the best paid German manager by far, was a topic of endless fascination in the German media. Wiedeking never divulged how much he made but unapologetically said he deserved what he earned — estimated to have been 80 million euros last year. Even before his dismissal was official, speculation swirled about how extraordinary his severance payment would be, with some putting the figure at 250 million euros. In the end it was less but still a handsome sum of 50 million euros, considering he leaves Porsche with a huge mountain of debt. As Wiedeking climbs off the throne, he is eager to burnish his blue collar credentials and in Robin Hood style announced he would donate what’s left of his payment after taxes to charity. Some of it will go to a foundation for Porsche staff, some into projects to create new jobs and, in a final swipe at his critics, he promised to give to a charity for “elderly and suffering journalists”. Take that, hacks.

Who really is the boss at Martha Stewart?

We’ve recently been wondering who the real boss is at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You know, the supreme chief, the head honcho, the generalissimo.  At one point we noticed the management team consisted of two co-chief executives, an executive chairman as well as a chief financial officer. All this with Martha herself hovering in the background.

Well we won’t have to wonder anymore. Or maybe we will.

It looks like the company’s top tier is slimming down with co-CEO Wenda Harris Millard stepping down to join Media Link, an advisory firm, less than a year after the ex-Yahoo exec was promoted to (co-) run the lifestyle brand.

Millard’s co-CEO Robin Marino will no longer hold that title but will continue to oversee the company’s merchandising business — and perhaps as consolation for her loss of title the company has recommended her for a seat on its board.

A $1 bln suit won’t stop Google from getting its Dauman

The big highlight of the McGraw-Hill media summit in New York when NBC Universal’s Jeff Zucker took a couple of shots at Jon Stewart.

But our favorite story came at the end of the day, courtesy of Viacom top dog Philippe Dauman. The background to this story was a question about Viacom’s $1 billion lawsuit against Google’s YouTube  over copyright infringement.

That led Dauman to mention that his son, Phillippe Dauman Jr., happens to work at… wait for it… Google.