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Marissa Mayer's Intuitive Search Meets Work Ethic At The Corner Of Bing & Yahoo

What's a $36 Million-Dollar lady to do after bailing from the world's largest search engine only to join the ranks of a bit player the likes of Yahoo? A player that was losing so much market share, it needed to enter a 10-year partnership agreement with Microsoft's Bing to stop the bleeding.

In a previous post, titled, "The Omnipotent, Omniscient & Ubiquitous Google Continues To Up The Ante," back in 2009 when Marissa Mayer headed up product development for the Big G, in less than 70 days, she was credited with releasing and adding 38 products to the search's ever-growing tool kit of over 300 apps, social networks and software.

With those types of accomplishments under her belt, one can understand why she was then targeted and wooed away by a multi-million-dollar comp package from an Internet company that lost its edge in the marketplace. Yahoo selected Mayer because they desperately needed a fixer to turn the company around. So, why has Ms. Mayer chosen to be dogged with human resource issues and bad press all centered around how unfairly she is treating her employees?

It appears that the last decade of telecommuting was a failed exercise in the eyes of the new CEO of Yahoo! Now apparently, "working at home" is code for taking care of your kids with a little work thrown in on the side. Needless to say, shock 'n awe ensued on the blogosphere with dissenters heavy in hand with digital torches and pitchforks.

This appears to be a draconian move on Mayer's part, particularly since she's been known to believe ideas for new product development comes from everywhere - every employee, every department, both born out of "necessity and serendipity." In her own words, Mayer's philosophy is hinges on "creating an environment where ideas can be freely exercised, like a muscle, they will likely get more toned and more in tune with the organization's circulation."

Yes, to address the damage done, Mayer rebounded most recently with added benefits for pregnancy leaves. She just doubled the amount of paid leave Yahoo will give mothers after the birth of a child from 8 weeks to 16 weeks and even Fathers of newborns will be able to get 8 weeks paid leave as well.

But is this enough, when the hard work of developing new products for Yahoo is so much more a pressing issue?

When at Google and was asked what the next iteration of an intelligent Google would look like, she said, "intuitive search."  She wanted the company to be capable of presenting information to users before they even know what they're looking for. Amazingly she didn’t think her team was that far away from achieving what she called the ‘omnivorous’ search engine – that is, one which is able to take a user’s total context – where they are, what they were just reading, which direction their mobile phone is pointed and so on.

So since she was unable to realize that plan at Google, is that her opening now? Can she employ at Yahoo what she didn't have time to finish at Google? Well, the jury's out, since up to now, Yahoo's always strived to be a "one-stop" destination instead of focusing on developing new tools like Google.

Yahoo's 10-year partnership with Microsoft's Bing is also problematic. While one of the major goals of the alliance was to collectively grow the two companies symbiotically to increase market share, it appears that they may be trading one off for the other.

As a result, the deal seems to be one-sided. It has been beneficial for the Bing search engine, as it passed Yahoo to become the No. 2 search engine in the United States for the first time in September 2010 shortly after the deal went into effect. And Bing has since maintained that position while Yahoo's market share continues to erode.

In February, 2013, in terms of the monetary aspect of the deal, Mayer was blunt in saying her company isn't seeing much benefit. Yahoo's yearly revenue has either been flat or decreased each year since the deal was struck. "We need to see monetization working better because we know that it can and we've seen other competitors in the space illustrate how well it can work," she said.

A hint at Mayer building "intuitive search" into Yahoo's infrastructure going forward came with the May 1 announcement when she joined the Board of Directors of Jawbone, a human-centered wearable technology firm that solves everyday problems and lifestyle tracking issues. With over 230 patents pending, it was a wise move on Mayer's part.

"Jawbone is creating intuitive, well-designed products and leading the development of the global market in wearable devices. I look forward to helping Jawbone strategically evolve and grow," she asserted. I'm sure the unstated intent in that quote was that 'in so doing, I'll be able to bring intuitive search to Yahoo as well!'

But now to put words in her mouth, we'll just have to wait and see if Mayer can ease up on the 'wish-I- was-working-at-home-Moms' long enough to get to the business that really counts underway! Intuitively, I think that would make a lot of sense. You?

 

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Ron Callari
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Comments
May 2, 2013
by Anonymous

What a lazy dog does when

What a lazy dog does when working at home.