In fact, I haven't heard a more impressive tech executive on an earnings call this year including Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Larry Page.
Maybe it's because I've gotten used to listening to Carol Bartz or Scott Thompson on these calls, but listening to Mayer was like manna from heaven. There was no confusing and vague language. There was no head-scratching over her stated plans. It was clear and direct. It was also realistic.
She sees Yahoo! as it is, not as she wants it to be. She sees both its weaknesses and its many overlooked strengths.This is a huge change. There can be no "fixes" at the company until it correctly sees the problems that must get corrected. That includes "dumb" things like Yahoo!'s siloed technology across its various properties that don't talk to each other and allow for knowledge sharing of users across them. It also includes tweaking mobile search in the past quarter and seeing it pay immediate dividends. Beyond the financial stuff that new CEO Ken Goldman covered, there were two areas that Mayer covered that really stood out: Yahoo!'s ability to partner, and search. Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein asked her whether Yahoo! could "win in mobile without an operating system? Or in the long term wouldn't companies like Apple (AAPL), Google (GOOG), or even Microsoft (MSFT), who control the platform, end up disseminating [sic] you from any application whether it's material value or that turns out to be important for end users?" Here's what she said: In terms of winning in mobile without a mobile OS, I actually view that one of the advantages here is that we don't have a mobile operating system because it allows us to operate and innovate and provide our products across all the different platforms. So we would like to offer our products on iOS as well as on Android. And I think that it's important to remember that, that list of items, checking stocks, checking news, checking weather, sharing photos, getting all of the -- all of those types of things are things that people do on the phone. And in that situation, Yahoo! has a unique set of content that we can provide our end-users, and that's something we've invested a lot in and I think it's something that is differentiating and a unique advantage. Of course she's right. What other company in the mobile space could announce partnerships tomorrow with either Apple, Microsoft, Google or Facebook (FB) or a combination thereof? It is really unique and a source of tremendous value for the company. It's also a point completely overlooked by Yahoo! critics who like to point out that Yahoo! hasn't done anything in mobile yet. She said as much on the call Monday. But that can change quickly with the right kind of partners no one else has.
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