Tag Archive: Marissa Mayer


“I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It’s important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter.” Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer in her July 25 employee letter announcing Verizon’s $4.8 billion cash acquisition of Yahoo!

What next chapter?mayerbook

Want to take an Internet pioneer, first-mover $125 billion company and transform it into an also-ran, acquisition target for four pennies on the dollar?

And to top it off, reward Yahoo! chief executive officer Marissa Mayer with more than $50 million in severance pay?

Wonder why so many are so upset with Wall Street?

What is it with high-accolade, lofty-expectations, lavaliere-strutting narcissistic chief executives, who are ostensibly hired to reverse the fortunes of struggling companies?

Much later, we all discover their real personal agenda was to simply put the corporation on the auction block, and to get paid handsomely for the privilege.

Where can I sign up for this lucrative gig?

The author of Almost DailyBrett will gladly say all the right things for a few years, bloviate at a few “developer” conferences, CES, SXSW and TED Talks and then when no one is looking, sell the company to the highest of low bidders and get rewarded for creating … nothing, absolutely nothing.

Hold That Horizontal Pose!

Alas, one thing your author will never be asked to do is pose for Vogue. Sorry, I don’t own a Michael Kors dress … and never will.mayer

Almost DailyBrett three years ago questioned why relatively new Yahoo! CEO Mayer would accept Vogue’s invitation for a horizontal spread in a fashion magazine? Was she trying to impress buy-side and sell-side institutional investors?

Women have long and justifiably complained about being objectified. What was telegenic Mayer doing with her Vogue reclining pose?

What did her PR team think about her proving once again that sex sells? Did her photo draw even more eyeballs to rival Google’s market-leading search engine?

Before you start thinking that Almost DailyBrett is solely focusing on the lucrative PR disaster record of one Marissa Mayer, please consider that many are still smarting over how Abhi Talwalkar drove LSI Logic into the ditch and received at least a $5.74 million severance payment for burying the company.abhi1

Your author served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic. Even though I left after 10 years to join Edelman Public Relations in December 2005, one could already see what Abhi had in mind … shed as many assets as quickly as possible to make the company more attractive to buyers.

As Almost DailyBrett previously reported, LSI Logic was the innovator of the application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) specialty semiconductor market for nearly 25 years under the leadership of founder Wilfred J. Corrigan.

It took Abhi less than nine years to end its existence, eventually accepting Avago Technologies (H-P’s former semiconductor business) for $6.6 billion offer in late 2013. LSI Logic is no more, but Abhi’s contract provided for the following:

  1. In the case of our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to 2.75 times his or her base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. In the case of a participant other than our Chief Executive Officer, a lump sum payment equal to two times the individual’s base salary and average bonus received over the preceding three years. 2. Full acceleration of all unvested equity awards. 3. Reimbursement of COBRA premiums for health insurance for 18 months. 4. In the event that a participant’s “parachute payments” are subject to the excise tax imposed by Section 4999 of the Internal Revenue Code, then LSI will make a supplemental payment to the participant in an amount that equals the excise tax on the parachute payments, plus any additional excise tax and federal, state and local and employment income taxes, on the supplemental payment. However, the total supplemental payment shall not exceed the sum of the participant’s (i) base salary immediately prior to the change in control, and (ii) target bonus for the year in which the change in control occurs.

Glad to see the “supplemental payment” would not exceed Abhi’s $2.09 million annual salary. Enough is enough … Right?

It’s even better that Vogue didn’t ask Abhi to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress.

His severance was obscene enough.

http://fortune.com/2016/04/19/verizon-yahoo/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/yahoo-sells-to-verizon-for-5-billion-marissa-mayer/#7b9c799b71b4

http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2016/07/25/here-is-marissa-mayers-final-letter-to-yahoo-employees/#54a12ae875ba

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/avago-to-buy-lsi-for-6-6-billion/?_r=0

 

 

“The sales of Apple kept getting stronger, the cash position larger, and the products more creative than any company I can ever recall – all because of the genius of one man, the founder, Steve Jobs.

“When Steve Jobs died on October 5, 2011, I told people on ‘Mad Money’ that Apple would never be the same…” – CNBC über-commentator and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer

The Three Gees

When I joined the ranks of Silicon Valley PR directors/managers in 1995, the business media was obsessed with three CEO rock stars we called, “The Three Gees”: Bill Gates (Microsoft), Lou Gerstner (Itty Bitty Machines) and Andy Grove (Intel).

The Three Gees dominated (today’s legacy) media at the time, seemingly making every cover of the leading business magazines, namely BusinessWeek, Forbes and Fortune.

They respectively represented the software, manufacturing and semiconductor sides of the PC, and the growth of their stocks was something to behold.

jobsamelio

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple one year later – 11 years after being forced out by John Sculley and the Board of Directors of the company he created – the media coverage was breathtaking. The Mercury News above-the-fold treatment left one wondering what the editors would do for the “Second Coming.”

And yet Steve Jobs was indeed mortal. There was no OMG product that Jobs bequeathed to his successor, Tim Cook. Today, Apple is losing ground to Samsung. Will Apple ever regain its Steve Jobs-era glory? Most are betting the under.

Fast-forward to the present: Microsoft is offering new generations of Windows in the post-Gates era. IBM sold its PC division – the technology it pioneered – to China’s Lenovo. Intel and other semiconductor companies are now mere commodity suppliers to the new newsmakers, the social media (e.g., LinkedIn), cloud computing (e.g., Salesforce.com) and mobile technology (e.g., Google) firms or as Cramer says: social, cloud and mobile.

Bench Strength?

In the big four American sports, particularly beisboll, football and hockey you cannot win the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup respectively with just superstars. This is less the case with basketball, but players contributing off the bench are still needed. The point is champions must have talent, including superstars, but they also need deep benches, intelligent systems and solid coaching.

A team winning the Stanley Cup cannot just rely on one superstar center, left-wing, right-wing line, but also scoring from lines two, three and four, solid defensemen and lights-out goalies. There will be nights when the top line is not producing. That means that others must step up and contribute.

penguins

My former boss, Wilf Corrigan, founded custom-chip designer LSI Logic in 1981 and also served as its chairman and chief executive officer until he decided in concert with the company board of directors to step down in 2005. He surrounded himself with extremely talented lieutenants as mentioned in an earlier Almost DailyBrett post. They went on to serve as CEOs including: John Daane (Altera); Brian Halla (National Semiconductor); Moshe Gavrielov (Xilinx); Jen-Hsun Huang (NVIDIA); Ronnie Vashishta (eASIC) and Bruce Entin (Silicon Valley Communication Partners).

The most important point is that Wilf, despite his status as a captain of industry, did not want the LSI Logic story to be exclusively about him. He also wanted to feature his deep bench. Instead of the first-person singular (e.g., I, me, myself), he insisted on personally speaking in the first-person plural (e.g., we, us, ours). He wanted the same for those who spoke on behalf of the company team … that would be me.

The Imperial CEO

carly1

Just last week, The Economist cited Czarina Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, in a story as to why female CEOs are more likely to be shown the door – the glass cliff — as opposed to their male counterparts. The central reason offered was that female CEOs are more likely to be hired from outside to save the day.

The Economist cited the “disproportionate publicity” that Carly received in her rocky tenure, making her a media star and synonymous with her company Hewlett Packard (particularly during the Compaq acquisition debacle) and ultimately contributing to her demise.

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Almost DailyBrett wrote earlier about glamorous Yahoo! rock star Marissa Mayer, and her decision to pose horizontally for Vogue. The question was asked then, and asked again now whether we care as much about Yahoo! as we do about Mayer? Maybe the coming $15 billion – $16 billion IPO of Chinese digital retailer, Alibaba, will bring some attention back to 13.6 percent part-owner, Yahoo!

We should also not lose sight that Mayer came to Yahoo! from Google. Is there another glass cliff in the offing?

“Tesla is Elon Musk”

Last week, a CNBC talking-head analyst declared that electronic car innovator Tesla was in reality an ion-battery maker in drag.

CNBC anchor Bill Griffeth replied that Tesla is Elon Musk. Guess the same would apply to privately held, rocket maker SpaceX. According to a recent profile on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Musk devotes three days of his typical week to SpaceX, two days to publicly traded Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and two days to his relatively new wife and five sons from his previous marriage.

Can Musk petition for weeks to be extended to nine days?

As a shareholder of Tesla and as a public relations counselor/commentator for three decades, Musk comes across as a good guy and relatively modest. He simply calls himself an “engineer.” Whether he likes it or not, he is first and foremost a technology rock star.

So what should Tesla, SpaceX and Musk do?

At a minimum, they all should be thinking about succession planning even though Musk is only 42 years young. The comparisons made by 60 Minutes and others, comparing Musk to Jobs, should be seen as both extremely flattering and downright scary.

Tesla and SpaceX seemingly have extremely talented corporate lieutenants. We need to see them and get to know them. Will they replace Musk in stature? No. Having said that, there will be a future of these companies after Musk, just as there was a future for Apple after Jobs.

muskstraubel1

For example we could learn more about Tesla’s chief technology officer JB Straubel, who rebuilt a discarded electric golf cart at 14-years young. Today, the Stanford grad in energy engineering is now tasked at building an affordable (e.g., $30,000) Tesla electric car with acceptable range.

The same will eventually be true for the leading rocket scientists (they really are rocket scientists) at SpaceX, particularly if Musk decides to take the company public.

The Tesla and SpaceX teams need to remember that running a company is not a sprint, but a marathon. To make it for the long-run and go deep into the playoffs, you need a seasoned team and a strong contributing bench.

http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Cramers-Get-Rich-Carefully/dp/0399168184

http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/03/27/briefly-steve-jobs-1996-return-to-apple-depicted-in-rare-set-of-photos

http://www.economist.com/news/business/21601554-why-female-bosses-fail-more-often-male-ones-glass-precipice

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

http://www.teslamotors.com/executives

 

 

 

 

mayer

According to CNBC.com, the unscientific polling of online respondents runs 60-40 percent in favor of Marissa Ann Mayer’s horizontal glamour photo in the latest edition of Vogue.

Keep in mind that result still represents a healthy percentage, who question the decision of the telegenic blonde ex-Google executive, now President and CEO of the Sunnyvale-based web-portal, search-engine provider, Yahoo!

No one would deny that Mayer, 38, has the discretion to make herself available for the photographers and writers of the renowned fashion magazine Vogue. The questions that come to mind concern the timing and the impact on the Mayer and Yahoo! brands.

Taking a gander at Mayer’s feet slightly above her head Vogue photo spread, one may be reminded of Bill Clinton’s eye-brow raising, open-legs 2000 cover shot for Esquire, rekindling memories of Bill, Monica and Kenneth Starr.

How many other publicly traded company CEOs would be invited by Vogue to pose in a horizontal fashion? What subliminal messages are being sent, particularly in a predominant Silicon Valley engineering culture? Talk about tongues wagging at the water cooler and the inevitable social media chat.

Maybe that is what this gambit is all about?

Let’s face it: The music had stopped playing for Yahoo! Even though Mayer has been able to raise Yahoo’s share price by 74 percent to $27.35, drive market capitalization and acquire Tumblr, the world does not speak of Mayer’s company in the same fashion as it does for Apple, Salesforce, Amazon, LinkedIn, Netflix, Facebook and of course her biggest rival, Google.

Having said that, there is no doubt the tech community is talking about Mayer. For Vogue, the editors are following the tried-and-true axiom: Sex sells. Is Yahoo! about sex or about technology?

And what is the paramount brand: Yahoo! or Mayer?

There is always a danger that is associated with the imperial CEO and the company becoming an interchangeable brand…or worse, the CEO is the brand. Oracle is Larry Ellison. Sun Microsystems was Scott McNealy. Apple was Steve Jobs. Hewlett-Packard for six years became Carly Fiorina.

There was Carly, Carly and still more Carly.

Has $117 million (over five years) Marissa become a more beautiful-and-fashionable version of Carly? Carly and HP became synonymous in that order with disastrous results. To this day, Hewlett-Packard has never recovered from the Carly era complete with the ill-advised and divisive acquisition of Compaq Computer as the PC market was maturing and stalling.

What happens to Yahoo! if something (heaven forbid) happens to Marissa? Do we lose interest in Yahoo!? Who else matters at Yahoo!? Is Marissa grooming a successor and a deep bench? Will she also be invited to pose horizontally in a Michael Kors dress?

In public relations, timing is everything.

Mayer has been on the job for only 13 months. She already delivered her new son, Macallister. She took off two weeks for maternity leave, built a nursery right next to her office and earned the rhetorical slings and arrows treatment usually reserved for Republicans from the always kind-and-considerate, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times.

She is just now getting into her groove. Shouldn’t she spend more time driving revenues and promoting profitability at the also-ran, search-engine provider, Yahoo!, before venturing off into the high-fashion world of Vogue? Her main competition is her former employer, Google. What’s worse is Google has become of the few companies that is actually a verb as in “Google this!” or “Google that!”

She is described by CNBC as “successful, strong and beautiful.” Still one must ask: Has she done enough for Yahoo!? Is her star rising faster and higher than Yahoo!? Is there a danger here?

One thing is certain when it comes to the media; the beast is the direct opposite of the U.S. Marine Corps. The folks at Camp Pendleton are renowned for breaking you down and then building you back up. The media specializes in building you up and then quickly bringing you down to earth in an unceremonious fashion.

Carly has first-hand experience when it comes to a Silicon Valley CEO ascending into the stratosphere and then crashing in the desert.

There are many, who will not celebrate Mayer’s celebrity. They will engage in Schadenfreude, when the inevitable bumps in the road ensue for Mayer and her company.

Maybe her company still matters.

And hopefully she didn’t peak to early.

Did the blood rush to her head when she posed with her heels elevated above her?

http://www.cnbc.com/id/100968027

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/what-happens-when-the-music-stops/

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/15083.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Mayer

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/08/16/marissa-mayer-yahoo-ceo-vogue-magazine-profile/2647691/

http://www.yahoo.com/

http://pressroom.yahoo.net/pr/ycorp/marissa-mayer.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carly_Fiorina

http://guestofaguest.com/things-we-love/our-favorite-retro-remakes-6-iconic-photo-recreations&slide=5

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/27/opinion/dowd-get-off-your-cloud.html?_r=0

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/20/living/marissa-mayers-vogue-photo-women/

From a personal public relations, marketing and branding standpoint, would I advise somebody’s daughter to pose au naturel for Playboy?

My answer is the ultimate of cop-outs: It all depends.

The most important public relations are personal public relations. Once a reputation and brand is tarnished, there will never be total redemption (e.g., Tiger Woods). This is not to suggest that posing for Playboy is necessarily unwise or potentially career limiting; some may conclude that is the case and others may have an all-together different opinion.

Before baring my opinions on this topic that once again came to the public’s attention as a result of Lindsay Lohan doing her best sans clothes impersonation of Marilyn Monroe complete with the red velvet background, one needs to be reminded that just a fraction of those that have the temerity to pose nude before millions of eyeballs are ever afforded the “opportunity.”

Besides having the requisite ornamental value, there usually must be a compelling business reason for the editors of Playboy to want devote a half-dozen or more glossy pages to a certain damsel. There is a literal media industry obsessed with fame (e.g., TMZ) and if the world has the desire to see what a particular, intriguing celebrity looks naked that draws lots attention, which translates into increasingly hard-to-attract advertising dollars. Reportedly, Lohan was paid $1 million under the condition that she pose 100 percent nude. There are 7.8 million Google results related to Lohan’s Playboy shoot and counting. The January/February issue (at least in major locales) with Lohan on the cover is a total sellout, which should bring a smile to Hugh Hefner’s 85-year old mug.

wittpb

So in the wake of her entertainment stardom, not to mention the DUIs, rehabs, shop-lifting and ankle bracelets, Lohan’s decision to pose even drew the interest of the Gray Lady, the New York Times. “You could argue that Playboy is actually a step in the right direction — toward what passes for class and decorum these days — and that she will now join the likes of Drew Barrymore, Kim Basinger, Joan Collins, Margaux Hemingway, Margot Kidder, Amanda Beard and Katarina Witt, all of whom posed for Playboy without any damage to their reputations whatsoever,” wrote Charles McGrath.

In assessing this question, one should consider the permanency of the pose/no pose decision. There is no debate that we live in a digital-is-eternal world in an attention society. A celebrity’s (or wanna-be celebrity’s) published nudity (both analog with staples and digital through key strokes) will follow her to the grave and in fact beyond the grave (e.g. Farrah Fawcett).

In some cases, the decision to pose nude is made with an eye toward launching a career (i.e., Jenny McCarthy, Pam Anderson) and in other cases the decision is made to resurrect interest or at least a memory (i.e. Witt, Fawcett). And in these cases, the decision from a personal PR, marketing and branding consideration was the right decision … but it doesn’t appear to work for everyone.

Nancy Sinatra’s decision to pose at 54 came too late in her career; her best days were clearly behind her. Fawcett was 48 and 50 for the two times she took off her clothes for Playboy’s photographers, putting her on the cusp of being too … mature for this decision.

Model Cindy Crawford recounted how advisors were aghast by her consideration of posing nude for famous photographer Herb Ritts’ camera a second time at 32-years-old in 1998. Reflecting on the stated opposition of her camp, Crawford said: “That provoked me and made me want to push their buttons a little. People have to compartmentalize me. They can’t deal with a woman who has a serious career taking off her clothes and being sexy.”

For race car driver/Go Daddy spokeswoman Danica Patrick the pose nude/not pose nude question has not been settled in her mind, and whatever she ultimately decides it must help build and enhance her personal “brand.”

“Artistically, I think it would be really fun,” the 31-year-old Patrick said according to the Sporting News. “But it’s not things that I need to do to push the issue with my brand. There’s already enough stuff that I do that pushes that, so I’d rather stay in my full comfort zone than go that far.

“I’m not saying there never will be a day. When I speak to them and they ask me each time, I say, ‘Don’t stop asking. I don’t know. I might change my mind one year and it might be something that parallels something else I’m doing or where I’m at.’”

Lohan’s pictorial in Playboy may or may not have totally sold out. There is no doubt that the Playboy appearances of two women resulted in their respective editions becoming collector’s items: Monroe and Olympic figure skating champion Witt.

wittpb1

Like Crawford before her, Witt had a similar pose/no pose decision to make. “I’m sure that some of my skating audience, when they hear I’ve taken off my clothes for Playboy, will be shocked. They may be uncomfortable with it, or they might ask, ‘Why?’ I don’t know what to say, except that I was ready to do this.” She was also 33 in 1998, possibly prompting her to ask herself, if not now, when … and is later possibly too late?

Olympic swimmer Beard was always being asked if she would pose for Playboy. “I talked to my agent, to my dad, I talked to my boyfriend, and finally it was like, You know what? It’s flattering that they want me to be in such an iconic magazine. It’s a huge honor, and I’m not going to have this body much longer. I’m going to go for it.”

And still there were nervous moments for Beard: “I’m used to being in not much clothing (yep, she is a swimmer), but I’m always in some clothing.” She had fun posing in the nude, and used the experience to try to get into the heads of her competition.

“What was most interesting is the reaction in the swimming community and the people I swim against,” Beard said. “The more I can distract them from my swimming, the better. Or maybe they won’t see me as much of a threat, and then bam out of nowhere … Another little mind game to play with them.”

Fawcett also reflected upon her fans and their impressions as part of her decision-making process. “Fans hand me posters, pictures, T-shirts to sign, and they talk about having fantasies about me. I decided, if they’re going to have fantasies, I’ll give them what I think they should have. As much as I wanted this, it wasn’t easy.”

In some cases, the decision to pose may revolve around money, (e.g. ,Lohan), notoriety (e.g., Kim Kardashian), break out the shadow of famous relatives (e.g., Lizzy Jagger) or to send a message to an ex-husband (e.g., Jeannie Buss).

From a personal brand-building/enhancing standpoint, the decision to pose worked well for the likes of Jenny McCarthy, Pam Anderson, Cindy Crawford, Katarina Witt and certainly Marilyn Monroe. For others including Nancy Sinatra and quite possibly, Farrah Fawcett and Patti Davis, it was a mistake. And for even others, such as Tea Party fave Sarah Palin or sideline reporter Erin Andrews in the wake of the despicable stalker video of her, the decision to pose would most likely be curtains or at least eye-opening setbacks to lucrative careers.

Relatively new Yahoo! President and CEO Marissa Mayer raised more than a few eyebrows with her horizontal spread for Vogue. A horizontal pose for Playboy by telegenic Mayer would more than stir up Yahoo!’s NASDAQ ticker symbol.

Of course, times and mores change. Monroe was reportedly questioned by authorities what was on when she posed for Playboy. She replied: “The radio.” These days no one would care what music was playing when Lohan stepped out of her bathrobe.

Did they airbrush her ankle bracelets along with her tattoos?

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/sunday-review/lindsay-lohan-in-playboy-overexposed.html?pagewanted=all

http://www.nndb.com/lists/272/000091996/

http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/9170927-president-reagans-daughter-patti-davis-poses-nude-at-58-photo

http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/271833/20111223/lindsay-lohan-pictorial-leaked-playboy-photos-want.htm

http://www.sportingnews.com/nascar/story/2013-07-12/danica-patrick-nude-photos-swimsuit-pose-si-espn-go-daddy

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nascar-from-the-marbles/danica-patrick-won-t-appear-nude-espn-body-034511628.html

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1702957-danica-patrick-declined-to-pose-in-the-2013-espn-body-issue

http://articles.latimes.com/1995-05-14/news/ls-376_1_parallel-universe

http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/20/living/marissa-mayers-vogue-photo-women/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/mayer-vogue-nasdaq-yhoo/

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