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TheStreet Open House

Marissa Mayer's a Badass

Stocks in this article: YHOOAAPLGOOGAMZN

What's lost on Marissa Mayer haters is that you can't build what she's building overnight. Or at least you shouldn't try.

Tim Cook could have produced a large screen iPhone back on iPhone 5 or earlier. Under Steve Jobs, Apple considered and even expressed concern over a bigger phone. However, it's a bullish sign that Apple didn't cave and do what will (reportedly) end up iPhone 6 before it was good and ready.

For an example that's closer to parallel, consider Netflix (NFLX). It took Reed Hastings a long time to attempt original programming. Granted, it wasn't a wholly strategic decision -- flaws in Netflix's initial streaming strategy triggered the move -- but Netflix did not jump into original content over the course of a few months. It took years.

That said, I don't think Mayer has a copycat of Netflix, Amazon or Hulu up her sleeve. While we might see components of these buinesses, I expect A) a diverse strategy from Mayer and, more importantly, B) a thing or two we're not expecting. We absolutely will not see a video strategy built on an underwhelming copycat of what Netflix is struggling, despite Hastings' PR spin and hype, to accomplish. Mayer's too smart for that.


The line I can't stop reeling as of late obsessively focuses (I'm not ashamed to admit it) on Yahoo! becoming the leader in live concert streaming. It's just too massive of an opportunity to pass up. Plus, Mayer has flashed signs she's into it. Yahoo! purchased a small startup in the space, Evntlive, and partners with Clear Channel's iHeart Radio to do what amount to one-off shows.

There's more on the horizon. Timestamp that.

If you're going to steal thunder from YouTube, you're not going to do it by poaching popular YouTubers. You're going to do it by taking over an area Google hasn't seized and maximized. You can find context to support that statement in the above-linked article.

But even if Mayer doesn't go as far as she should and I want her to go with the live music experience, it's clear she's serious about building something sustainable and long-term. She's building Yahoo! around a combination of personalities, daily habits and appointment viewing.

If you think about all of the Internet television/online video strategies out there, very few, if any, have taken this approach. You have to give Mayer credit for staking out the territory. While it might not generate immediate, world-beating results (though, in its infancy, what we have seen hasn't been bad), it treats Yahoo! like the long-term project it should be after years of short-sighted mismanagement that, at times, bordered on neglect.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a full-time columnist for TheStreet. He lives in Santa Monica. Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors, reporters and analysts from holding positions in any individual stocks.
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