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The Verdict on Mayer and Yahoo!

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Silicon Valley loves her. Madison Avenue hates her. Wall Street just wants the drama to end.

How can there be such widely divergent views on new Yahoo! (YHOO - Get Report) CEO Marissa Mayer?

The best thing I can come up with is a football analogy. Several years ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers needed a new head coach. Their top assistants were considered favorites for the job. But Mike Tomlin, a little known defensive-back coach for the Vikings, was hired.

Tomlin nailed the interview.

That's what apparently happened at Yahoo. Google (GOOG) "Local" head Marissa Mayer nailed the interview.

Five years after his hiring, Tomlin has a Super Bowl ring. If Yahoo! is still relevant to Silicon Valley five years from now, Mayer will deserve one.

But Yahoo! isn't so much like the Steelers. It's more like the team Tomlin left, the Vikings.

Give "activist investor" Daniel Loeb credit. After hearing what Mayer had to say, he didn't pound the table for the "media" vision he'd pursued with interim CEO Ross Levinsohn after pushing out former CEO Scott Thompson and joining two media executives on the company's board.

Instead, he acted like Mayer was all his idea, according to Kara Swisher at All Things D, even though Mayer would be Yahoo!'s fourth leader in less than a year.

Why? Because, as Swisher explained in her hyper-snarky way in another piece at All Things D, the Silicon Valley game comes down to two things: vision and talent.

Mayer will be laying out the vision to the rest of us over the next several weeks, and she obviously knows where talented people are working.

Fast Company says that vision includes a love of simplicity, products built in labs and constantly tested, plus a willingness to say no, all apparent from her time at Google. Expect engineers to be in the lead, salesmen and other "media" people in the back. It's a Yahoo! version of Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) old "back to the garage."

So does that make Mayer the Yahoo! equivalent of former HP CEO Carly Fiorina or -- to return to the football analogy -- Vikings coach Leslie Frazier, who went 2-14 last season? We'll have to see.
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