Yahoo!'s Next Hire Will Make or Break Marissa Mayer

NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Yahoo!'s (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer is about to demonstrate her leadership abilities with one of the most influential decisions for the company since assuming the helm almost two years ago. She's said to be ready to hire a new chief operating officer.

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Mayer had hired former Google (GOOG) colleague Henrique De Castro as COO but showed him the door out after 15 months. Don't feel too terrible for De Castro, though, his total compensation for his time at Yahoo! was almost $60 million.

Mayer's search for a replacement may be nearing completion, according to reports. It's a good thing, too, because operationally the company is behind in several areas including updating Yahoo! Finance Yahoo's profile page to reflect De Castro's departure.

A whole new approach towards advertising is necessary. Obviously, De Castro wasn't the revenue-generating officer Mayer expected. But, she had better get it right this time or things may become uncomfortable for her in upcoming earnings conference calls. Yahoo! shares are down over 16% as of the Tuesday close of $33.83.

Despite significant operational improvements, she's been given a free pass because she's new (although the newness is fading quickly), and fortuitous timing in Yahoo!'s investments has helped rocket the share price by more than double since her arrival. The two most significant investments include Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan.

Alibaba is expected to open the doors to the public with its IPO later this year. Yahoo! owns a 24% stake in the Chinese e-commerce powerhouse and the lion's share of Yahoo!'s share growth since Mayer started is a result of Alibaba's increased valuation.

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