Marissa Mayer’s Big Plans for Yahoo: Grow Mobile, Partnerships, Scale

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer laid out her vision for the future of Yahoo for employees yesterday, some of whom leaked the details of her plan to AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher. Don’t get too excited over details; this was more a broad overview of where she’d like to take the company than an itemization of coming changes.

Little was said of plans for the billions in proceeds from the recently completed sale of Alibaba assets (back to the company) remaining after promised investor payouts. Mayer did say on closing the deal these funds would be used to “invest in future growth.”

Part of that investment will almost certainly focus on mobile apps, according to BusinessInsider. Mayer is intent on bringing talent back to Yahoo through acquisitions in which employees are part of the parcel and she is particularly interested in app developers.

Yahoo excels at personalization, Mayer said, which will be the focus of her strategy to turn the ailing former giant around. She aims to increase both the number of users and the amount of time they spend using Yahoo sites and products through greater personalization and a more mobile experience.

They’ll need more partners to reach her goal described as the “Rule of 100 Million,” meaning projects will only get the go-ahead if they can scale to 100 million users.

To that end, Yahoo will be more friendly with partners in mobile, hardware, social networks and more. With the Bing deal ending next year, whether or not they’ll remain friendly on that front and renew their search deal remains to be seen.

Even back in April of this year, Yahoo and Google were reportedly talking about striking a search deal, despite their being shut down by regulators in 2008 before Yahoo turned to Microsoft. That Google’s Eric Schmidt spoke out this week and expressed renewed interest in a potential partnership is hardly surprising.

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Mayer is also looking forward to a new working atmosphere at Yahoo, with the rise of her Four Cs for staffers in its place:

  • Culture
  • Company goals
  • Calibration
  • Compensation

As part of this new environment and direction, Mayer is cleaning house; the replacement of CFO Tim Morse by outside talent Ken Goldman was announced just after her all-hands staff meeting yesterday. Morse was rumored to have been looking for an out since serving a stint as interim CEO and being replaced by Mayer, who took the reins in July.

Mayer’s speech is already drawing criticisms, despite the fact it was meant as an internal staff meeting and not a presentation to investors. She had discussed her direction twice with the board, yet some are unimpressed with what they’re calling her “vague platitudes.” Analysts were hoping for specifics in search, email, and the Yahoo homepage, but they’ll have to wait, likely until the October 15 quarterly earnings call.

Her vision is clear: Yahoo aims to be something users touch every day, said BI. Mayer plans to build a culture in which innovation is nurtured and products have a faster trip out the door. Ownership needs to increase, as does ad revenue, mobile strength, and product usage.

How, exactly, she will accomplish this remains to be seen, though it’s worth noting the overall sentiment and morale at Yahoo seems far greater than it’s been at any point in the recent years of musical chairs in the CEO’s office. Four months in, Yahoos and investors still have reason to be hopeful.