Recently there was a lot of backlash toward Marissa Mayer and her decision to eliminate remote workers by bringing everyone back to Yahoo! Headquarters. When I initially heard this, I thought, “Why would she do that? Over the past few years, remote workers have been a major component of TrenMedia’s growth and survival as a company.”
However, I have always felt that a company’s culture, and the people driving that culture, work best in a communal environment. This is particularly important for a company like Yahoo!, which has lost its culture’s identity over the past five years.
This lack of a culture-driven community, in my opinion, is why Yahoo! has fallen behind some of the other major tech companies in terms of innovation, talent recruitment, and overall revenue growth. Yahoo! used to be what Google and Facebook are now: the “it” company to work for.
As Paul Graham put it, “What Happened to Yahoo!?”
That is still the question that most people are asking. The answer is that their culture of innovation has been lost.
For years, Yahoo! has acted with the misguided focus of being a leading content provider with a decent foundation, but not a great technology-focused vision. So as CEOs keep getting thrown under the bus because of failing revenue numbers, a lack of vision and a decreasing brand value, Yahoo! still didn’t get it. Innovate or Die.
So, in steps, Marissa Mayer, who spent over a decade at Google–one of the most innovative and culture-driven companies in the tech industry–has been transplanted to save a confused, former tech giant with a major ego problem and an inexplicable identity crisis.
Yahoo! wasn’t simply getting a former Google employee; they were getting a potential Google CEO in training. At Google, Mayer worked with (or over) some of the core products that have shaped Google into the tech powerhouse they are today (Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile).
So Yahoo! just plucked a superstar from a “Team Giant” she helped build. They’re also getting a coder that is willing to become a great CEO. Mayer understands the value in building a company based on innovation.
Why change that at a new company? Because Yahoo! has to grow its revenue significantly to compete with Google, and getting one of their star players is a good start.
Mayer’s recent decision to change Yahoo!’s policy of remote workers may inconvenience a few people, but Yahoo! has operated under these policies for the last seven CEOs, (That is almost as many CEOs the tech giant IBM has had in its one hundred and two year history) and we all know what happened to them. I think this is a great step in getting Yahoo! back on track to being considered among the great tech companies once again.