I, like most folks, was thrilled to learn that Marissa Mayer was chosen to be the next CEO of Yahoo! And they chose her knowing she is pregnant. Go Yahoo! Mayer, only 37, is the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500. Go Marissa!
If anyone can bring Yahoo! back to prominence, it is Marissa Mayer. She is not only muy inteligente (she is an engineer who holds patents in Artificial Intelligence), she is young, hip, fashionable and feminine . The second half of that sentence may seem silly to point out, and even irrelevant, but it is absolutely NOT. It is relevant to both the “what to do with Yahoo!” conversation and the “how do we get more women into technology” discussion.
Let’s start with what to do with Yahoo!
Yahoo! has had 5 CEOs in 5 years. Holy crap,!! For years, it has been a company in turmoil, struggling with loss of talent and slowed growth. BUT, on any given day, Yahoo! has upwards of 20 million article views and, in any give month, 700 million people visit the site. Though it will be a mighty challenge, the opportunity to reboot Yahoo! is HUGE. So what should the company do? I think the answer is to focus on WOMEN. A nd who better to lead that charge than a pioneering woman in tech like Marissa Mayer? I had some thoughts about this, and then I came across a spot-on post, titled “Pink is the New Purple“, by Dave McClure. Here are some highlights from his post:
“…. what if Marissa used Yahoo as a bully pulpit, to address the needs of a market that is roughly 50% or more of the global internet population? What if Yahoo began acquiring or partnering with properties specifically relevant to women, like Pinterest, ShoeDazzle, Gilt Groupe, BabyCenter, EcoMom, Oprah, ……Martha Stewart (or BritMorin.com),……?”
FashionTech / Fashion 2.0 / Social Commerce (whatever you want to call it) is crushing it right now. There are tons of new online businesses aimed at girls/women/mothers that are generating a tremendous amount of traffic, revenue and profit. And if they were not founded by women, they tend to have lots of female employees. As a whipsmart businesswoman, a self-proclaimed online shop-aholic, and a mommy-to-be, I know Marissa has gotta be all over this. She has, in fact, angel invested in several of these companies, including OneKingsLane and Brit Media. Mayer is the leading “Woman on the Web” right now, and she has a kickass opportunity to partner with kickass businesses for women (that are often by women) and turn Yahoo! into the leading destination for “Women on the Web.”
Now let’s hop from the impact Marissa could have by focusing Yahoo! on women, and discuss the impact she is already having on helping to attract women to the tech industry.
Hardly a day goes by that I don’t come across an article that discusses the lack of women in technology. Marissa was already a stand-out role model for this cause. Now, as the youngest CEO in the Fortune 500, she is even more prominent. And she is definitely not shy about using her status as a platform for encouraging young women to get into technology. Below is one of numerous quotes from Marissa on this topic.
”One of the things I care a lot about is helping to… show girls that you can be feminine, you can like the things that girls like, but you can also be really good at technology.”
Marissa Mayer is a hip and fashionable female that young women can relate to. With women now making up over 50% of undergraduates, lots of young girls will now look at Marissa and her accomplishments, and be more inclined to study math, science, and programming in pursuit of a powerhouse career in tech.
Hopefully Marissa is reading this (ahahahaha!), or, more likely, Dave McClure’s blog. Ms. Mayer – you are the right woman, at the right time, and the right place to have a powerful impact on women (students, consumers, employees, founders) all over this world. C’mon sista, you got this! Us women are watching you eagerly!