| Marissa Mayer is throwing around money like Marie Antoinette|
By Dana Schuster January 2, 2016
Marissa Mayer has reportedly been spending Yahoo! money like water.Photo: Post Photo Composite Yahoo’s $7 million end-of-the-year bash at San Francisco’s Pier 48 was one for the books. Aerialists swung among chandeliers, pouring Champagne, while a burlesque troupe tantalized the Silicon Valley crowd. There was a white Rolls-Royce parked inside and cigarette girls peddling candy. In a roped-off corner, Marissa Mayer, the company’s president and CEO, perched like a queen — nine months pregnant and wearing a floor-length gown — on a white armchair while posing for photos with her loyal subjects.
Too bad her kingdom’s crumbling.
Since taking the reins of Yahoo in 2012, Mayer’s come under fire for failing to revive the struggling company. Executives are fleeing, stock is plummeting — down 32 percent year-to-date — and Mayer’s spending like Marie Antoinette.
Mayer (right) greeted employees art the Yahoo! holiday party in a roped-off VIP area.Photo: Instagram She threw down $3 million to sponsor the May 2015 Met Gala and $2 million to sponsor the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last January. Hedge fund manager and Yahoo shareholder Eric Jackson submitted a 99-page presentation to the company’s board calling for Mayer’s ousting, lambasting the CEO for unnecessary expenditures like 22,000 iPhones and some $108 million per year in free food for employees.
And critics are grumbling about Mayer’s lavish spending on bold-face contributors like Katie Couric (whose contract recently got renewed for a reported $10 million per year) and companies like Tumblr, for which Mayer paid $1.1 billion in 2013. It’s currently valued at $0.
(A source close to company operations claims that the holiday bash this year cost $2 million and that Mayer’s parties have actually cut costs, since she’s eliminated multiple departmental gatherings.)
Those who know Mayer, 40, say she doesn’t understand how to behave when a company’s flailing, since she’s never experienced failure.
“I think all humans want to scratch the insecurity itches they may have had when they were younger. I think she tries to host parties and events that make her very popular.”
- A Google colleague
“She knew nothing but success,” says someone who worked closely with Mayer at Google. Mayer was Hire No. 20 at that company and is worth a reported $300 million. “She’s never seen what any of us would call tough times.”
She’s seeing it now, though.
In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Yahoo was considering selling its struggling Web business. And Jeffrey Smith, one of the main shareholders, wrote a letter to Mayer and chairman Maynard Webb warning that “without significant change to the [Yahoo] culture,” the company’s value will continue to decline.
Former and current employees say tensions are at an all-time high, especially after Mayer laid off 1,100 staffers in the first quarter of 2015, calling it a “remix.” More job cuts are reportedly on the way for 2016.
“I think people are constantly worried about the next shoe dropping,?” says a former Yahoo director who left this fall.
“Goals switched a lot — both Marissa’s goals and the company’s goals.?.?.and you’re ranked against your goals,” the former employee adds. “I just couldn’t…have the rug pulled out from under us all the time.”
According to industry insiders, Mayer’s trying to carry too much on her shoulders.
“She has 28 direct reports as opposed to [Facebook’s Mark] Zuckerberg, who has 10 —and [he] has a business 35 times as big in terms of profit,” says Jackson. Mayer’s micromanaging has been rubbing people the wrong way since her Google days.
“She’s very proud of testing 17 different shades of blue for the logo,” says a Google employee who describes Mayer as a “hard-working, sort of coldly analytical person.”
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Marissa Mayer is throwing around money like Marie Antoinette
January 2, 2016
Yahoo!'s "Great Gatsby"-themed employee holiday party Photo: Instagram
Another former Yahoo staffer, who worked in public relations during Mayer’s first year, recalls her boss mandating that the p.r. team document “every single interaction with the press, down to a coffee [meeting]” on a master Excel sheet.
“Every week, that would get elevated to her and come back to us the following Monday .?.?. and it would say, ‘This is a go,’ or ‘I need more information.’ A company the size of Yahoo, and everyone had to [have] input [on] every interaction. It was crazy.”
But while Mayer, who turned down The Post’s request for an interview, may be overly immersed in day-to-day minutiae, critics say she’s also lacking in personal skills.
“She doesn’t seem to have a lot of human emotion,” says the ex-director. “I never got the sense that she was mad or sad or happy.”
Mayer’s infamous for her robotic demeanor — and for having little regard for employees’ time, often scheduling call-in meetings from the other side of the world as late as 3 a.m., and holding office hours where executives are left waiting for hours at her door.
“She’s always late,” gripes the former p.r. employee.
Marissa Mayer arrives at the Costume Institute Gala Benefit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in May 2015.Photo: Getty Images The CEO also drew criticism in 2013 when she banned employees from working remotely, but paid to install a nursery in her office for her newborn son.
And while she doubled Yahoo’s paid maternity leave to 16 weeks — and recently introduced a new benefit that covers egg freezing, storage and thawing — she famously only took two weeks off when her son was born in 2012. In late 2015, pregnant with twin girls (born Dec. 10), Mayer once again stated that she planned on “taking limited time away and working throughout” her pregnancy.
Contrast that with new father Mark Zuckerberg, who announced in November that he’d be taking two months off for paternity leave, a move heralded by feminists everywhere. Mayer’s female underlings are left wondering whether there’s an unspoken expectation that, in order to succeed, one must follow in the footsteps of their Wonder Woman boss.
“There are some instances where she’s a little tone deaf,” admits a former Google colleague. “She’s like, ‘I don’t see why anyone else can’t do work while giving birth.’ Or, ‘Oh, you’re having surgery? Schedule it on Friday and I’ll see you at work on Monday.’ She’s lacking a human component that would make her a more well-liked boss.”
Even while at Google, many years after that company IPO’d and made Mayer a multimillionaire, “She would come in at 4 or 5 in the morning,” says the Google insider.
“She was dating [Google co-founder] Larry Page, her boss, and she’d [tell him on dates], ‘Well, this has been really fun. I would totally stay but I have work I have to go do. Enjoy the rest of your night!’?” he says.
“It was a major source of tension in their relationship.”
Mayer, the oldest child and only daughter of Michael (an environmental engineer) and Margaret (an art teacher), has been driven since her hyperscheduled childhood in Wausau, Wis. She headed to Stanford, majoring in symbolic systems, which focuses on computers and the mind.
“She was very quirky, individualistic, bright,” says Stanford pal Matthew Rabinowitz, who has a genetics company, Natera, in which Mayer is an investor.
“People realized that Marissa was bright and unique, but I don’t think people realized what a powerhouse she was,” he adds.
They did when she took a risk, turning down more stable jobs at McKinsey and Carnegie Mellon, among others, for an engineering position at a then-unheard-of search engine startup called Google.
Marissa Mayer and her husband Zachary BoguePhoto: Patrick McMullan Mayer excelled professionally, then personally, marrying venture capitalist Zachary Bogue in 2009. Their son, Macallister, is now 3, while the names of their twins have yet to be made public.
Some argue that Mayer gets too much flack, considering the state of despair Yahoo was in when she inherited the company.
“The task that she’s been given is just absolutely impossible,” says Swapnil Parikh, who worked at Tumblr when it was acquired by Yahoo. (He left this past August.)
He says Yahoo struggles to attract the big engineering talent that gets lured by quickly growing companies like Uber. And with all the hubbub around Yahoo’s purchase of Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba and the subsequent sell-back, Mayer hasn’t been able to concentrate on what she was brought on to do — create new, user-friendly products.
But in order to do that, she needs to make one thing more user-friendly first: herself.
“She needs to grow,” says the Google colleague, “but she’s a learner.”
And a glamour-puss, apparently. Mayer, who has a collection of four-figure Oscar de la Renta cashmere boleros, has somehow managed to look like she’s straight out of a fashion shoot while trying to revive Yahoo.
In 2013, she was featured in a controversial Vogue spread, photographed sprawled upside-down on a garden chaise, holding an iPad emblazoned with her glamorous mug — a pose some critics said made her seem more tech-princess than CEO.
From left: Anna Wintour, Thomas P. Campbell and Marissa Mayer attend “China: Through The Looking Glass” Costume Institute Benefit Gala in May 2015.Photo: FilmMagic “She obviously wants to be a style icon,” says the former Yahoo director, who saw the Met Gala sponsorship as nothing but a pet cause for Mayer’s ego. She says Mayer was most concerned with the site’s beauty and fashion sections, shelling out big bucks for Elle creative director Joe Zee — now the executive creative director at Yahoo Style.
“I think all humans want to scratch the insecurity itches they may have had when they were younger,” adds the Google colleague. “I think she tries to host parties and events that make her very popular.”
And her parties are legendary. The cakes are like something out of “Willy Wonka” — Mayer’s famous for using spreadsheets when testing cupcake ingredients with bakers to create the optimal treat. Her 2014 Halloween party — with carved pumpkins the size of small houses — took place at a Palo Alto, Calif., mortuary that she had purchased with $11.2 million of her own money.
But it’s the events she throws with the shareholders’ cash, like Yahoo’s “Wizard of Oz”-themed Christmas 2014 bash, that are getting the CEO in hot water. That
party’s decorations included an estimated $70,000 photo of Mayer and other execs costumed as Dorothy and Co., something Mayer reportedly thought would boost morale.
“I was like, ‘Does no one understand the entire point of that movie? That there was actually no leader?’?” asks a former high-level Yahoo employee. “A lot of things at Yahoo are ill-thought out.”
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