Telegraph vs Guardian on Yahoo!’s Mayer

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Wednesday, 18th July 2012 by Simon Hilliard

So Yahoo! has a new chief executive. Or another new chief executive if you prefer. The fifth inside a year is Marissa Mayer who, you may have heard, an ex-Google employee – as of Monday.

Can Mayer breathe new life into Yahoo!’s increasingly bleak future? To be blunt with you, I have no idea. I guess if there is a person in the world who could do it, it would be one of the three people who invented Google AdWords (yeah, she’s one of those). On the other hand, you can’t polish a…failing dot.com darling.

Forget the arguments on Yahoo!’s future for a second, because there’s an interesting point on media coverage of this appointment to end all appointments. After an initial storm of news stories late Monday / early Tuesday, a few ‘think pieces’ have been appeared with the more considered viewpoints of tech writers.

Specifically, The Guardian and The Telegraph took opposing views on the appointment and Mayer’s future.

The Guardian was full of chipper enthusiasm, calling Mayer “a Savvy boss” who is “one of the few executives able to turn Yahoo around”. Much of the write up focus on her past, with quotes from former colleagues and details of her working practises. At Google she went to 70 meetings a week, don’t you know. Even Schmidty waxed lyrical about her – to Glamour magazine of all things.

Comparatively, The Telegraph took a more forward looking view – and quite a dim one at that. Digital Media Editor Emma Barnett reports Mayer has “has taken on mission impossible” and deduces her “relatively easy” choice to depart Google was due to being pushed out of the power circle that, The Guardian would have you believe, loved her to pieces. The article also chronicles Yahoo!’s poor record on pretty much every business decision since 1999, concluding “Mayer, despite her huge following in Silicon Valley and brilliant reputation in consumer technology, has just gleefully accepted one of the Internet’s most high profile poisoned chalices.”

The poisoned chalice lined is also replicated in a second Telegraph article by media, telecoms and tech editor by Katherine Rushton. A strange term to use, given that even a poisoned chalice is meant to at least appear to be good at first – not something many would call Yahoo! right now.

So the media is uncertain of her future, and Yahoo!’s for that matter. If nothing else, in a few months we can all discuss [the brilliant job she has done turning the company around / who on earth is brave enough to be chief exec number 6] – delete as appropriate.

@simonhill

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