Marissa Mayer's Critics Need to Get a Clue

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Yahoo!'s (YHOO) Marissa Mayer, who is now one year into her tenure as CEO, hasn't been as warmly embraced as many industry experts expected.

Frankly, though, I don't believe she cares. Why should she? Where was Yahoo! before her arrival?

I have always loved this company, but I had grown tired that it's CEO's office had turned into a turnstile.

It seemed that every year investors were being introduced to a new leader and being reminded of broken promises from the one that just left.

Mayer, as some analysts have proclaimed, has not taken the "safe route" (whatever that is) in establishing her values as a leader. Wasn't Scott Thompson a safe pick?

Mayer, is bemoaned for having made too many people uncomfortable. Her hard position on workplace issues that typically are considered sensitive for women serves as one example. But I don't believe that a strong comfort level served anyone at the company.

In fact, I once called Yahoo! "the best has-been" on the stock market. The company was teetering down the Lycos and Excite path towards irrelevance.

But thanks to Mayer, who has brought new life to this company, calling Yahoo! anything but improving would be wrong. So what if her methods are unconventional? She's delivering results.

What's more, Mayer understands the urgency that exists after Yahoo! allowed Facebook ( FB), Groupon ( GRPN) and Yelp ( YELP) to grab social media territory that Yahoo! could have dominated if it had had a CEO with vision.

Yahoo!'s recent acquisitions, such as Tumblr and Summly suggest the company is now more focused on growing its technical capabilities. At the same time, Mayer has forged relationships with media sources such as CNBC to lessen Yahoo!'s need to generate its own content.

Given that smart, recent push, do really believe that Mayer would have allowed social media opportunities to get away had she been Yahoo!'s CEO years ago?

I will grant that the search business is over. Google ( GOOG) is circling laps around both Yahoo! and Microsoft's ( MSFT) Bing.

That said, Yahoo! still has a direction.

Mayer's wants to reposition the company as a technology leader. In trying to do so, she has ruffled feathers -- many of which needed to be ruffled.

And the days of the doom-and-gloom talks are over. The company once again resembles an Internet pioneer. It's no longer just a media company.

There's no denying that Mayer still has plenty of work ahead of her before Yahoo! is fully turned around. But given that the stock has surged more than 110% over the past year, it's hard to argue that investors don't believe in her.

I'm not often impressed by corporate boards. But Yahoo!'s board certainly got it right when it hired Mayer.

I also believe Mayer's performance over the past year means that it won't be such "surprising" news the next time a big company hires a woman chief executive.

Along those lines, people have speculated that Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg will get tapped for a CEO job.

I've been on record as recommending her for the Microsoft job that doesn't come open but should. Thanks to Mayer, Sandberg will get her chance much sooner than otherwise.

Yahoo! threw Wall Street a curve ball by hiring Mayer.

What's surprising is that despite her achievements, and bottom-line results, people still criticize her methods.

Mayer is described as a person who loves numbers. Maybe her critics should look at Yahoo!'s numbers -- its stock price and Yahoo!'s traffic data -- before questioning whether she knows what's she's doing.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Richard Saintvilus is a co-founder of where he serves as CEO and editor-in-chief. After 20 years in the IT industry, including 5 years as a high school computer teacher, Saintvilus decided his second act would be as a stock analyst - bringing logic from an investor's point of view. His goal is to remove the complicated aspect of investing and present it to readers in a way that makes sense.

His background in engineering has provided him with strong analytical skills. That, along with 15 years of trading and investing, has given him the tools needed to assess equities and appraise value. Richard is a Warren Buffett disciple who bases investment decisions on the quality of a company's management, growth aspects, return on equity, and price-to-earnings ratio.

His work has been featured on CNBC, Yahoo! Finance, MSN Money, Forbes, Motley Fool and numerous other outlets.

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