News Column

Yahoo's Mayer: New Products Will Drive Turnaround

June 26, 2013
Marissa Mayer

Promising a "chain reaction of growth," Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer told shareholders Tuesday that new online products, including mobile apps and original video programs, will help revive the company's struggling advertising business.

"When you build great products, users come," Mayer said during the company's first shareholder meeting since she was hired from Google (GOOG)

last year. "That leads to traffic and advertising and ultimately to revenue."

Mayer used the event to show off several new or revamped products, including a mobile weather app, an email app for tablets and the recently overhauled Flickr photo-sharing service. She also ducked questions from Walmart employees who wanted her to address what they characterized as worker abuses at the retail chain, where she is a board member.

The meeting started with a trivia contest in which a master of ceremonies gave away free T-shirts to shareholders, one of whom said it was more fun than meetings he'd attended under two previous CEOs.

Mayer is the fifth CEO to run the troubled Internet pioneer in five years, and investors seem pleased with

Yahoo's progress. The share price is up more than 60 percent from a year ago; it closed Tuesday at $24.96.

But Yahoo is still struggling to reverse a steady decline in advertising revenue. It lost market share to Google and Facebook last year, according to research firm eMarketer, and reported a 7 percent revenue drop in the first quarter of 2013.

Shareholders re-elected all 10 directors who stood for re-election Tuesday, including a majority who joined the board in a major overhaul last year, and endorsed the company's executive pay agreements. Mayer's was valued at $36 million last year, including stock awards that will vest over several years.

Yahoo executives took a few questions, but Mayer declined to answer several Walmart employee activists who asked to meet with her about alleged retaliation against Walmart workers who complained about unfair job practices. Mayer said Walmart directors aren't allowed to speak publicly about the company and added that Tuesday's meeting "is about Yahoo."

The CEO also ignored an awkward moment when an elderly shareholder told her, "I'm a dirty old man and you look attractive," but she responded when he criticized her controversial decision to stop letting Yahoo employees work from home.

"For our company at this time, it's right to have people in the office because that's where we find collaboration," Mayer said. "This is important for us right now. I wouldn't say always, but it is for us today."



Source: (c)2013 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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