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Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

The thrilling story of how Marissa Mayer became the CEO of Yahoo in her 30s

By Nicholas Carlson
19-minute read
Audio available
Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! (2015) takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of this one-time leader of the early internet. These blinks explain how Yahoo has changed, and often struggled, as it progressed from its early start-up days to a multi-billion dollar corporation. The blinks also put a spotlight on Yahoo’s latest CEO, Marissa Mayer, and her extensive efforts to keep the company moving forward.

  • Readers who want a peek behind the scenes of Yahoo
  • Ambitious tech geeks curious about the dynamics of tech start-ups
  • Avid readers of corporate biographies (the adventure tales of today)

Nicholas Carlson is Business Insider's chief correspondent and investigative reporter. He wrote about the histories of Facebook, Twitter and Groupon and is the author of The Cost of Winning: Tim Armstrong, Patch and the Struggle To Save AOL.

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Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!

By Nicholas Carlson
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! by Nicholas Carlson
Synopsis

Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! (2015) takes us on a journey through the ups and downs of this one-time leader of the early internet. These blinks explain how Yahoo has changed, and often struggled, as it progressed from its early start-up days to a multi-billion dollar corporation. The blinks also put a spotlight on Yahoo’s latest CEO, Marissa Mayer, and her extensive efforts to keep the company moving forward.

Key idea 1 of 12

The early Yahoo was promising, and had no trouble finding financial support.

Like many other success stories, Yahoo came from modest beginnings. In 1993, Yahoo’s prospective founders David Filo and Jerry Yang shared the links to their favorite web pages on a website called David and Jerry’s Guide to the Internet.

Back then, the world wide web was relatively new and their site was little more than an index of web pages, allowing people who were new to the internet to look up pages they were interested in. Unexpectedly, traffic grew to 50,000 visits per day. It seemed that David and Jerry’s site had tapped into something unique.

The founders renamed the site to the more memorable Yahoo!, an acronym for “Yet another hierarchical officious Oracle”. They also liked the slang definition of the word “yahoo,” referring to a rude, unsophisticated person. And so Yahoo was born.

Traffic kept growing steadily, reaching one million clicks per day in 1995. At this rate, the infrastructure provided by Stanford University wasn’t enough to support the site. David and Jerry needed real servers for Yahoo – and for these, they would also need some cash.

Fortunately for them, finding investors was a piece of cake. Sequoia Capital partner Mike Moritz decided that the newbie company needed “adult supervision” to scale up the business. This gave the founders the freedom to focus on the innovation side. Sequoia would become COO, while Stanford graduate Tim Koogle would take on the role of CEO and chairman.

In March 1995, only days after Yahoo was incorporated, they declined an offer of $2 million from America Online to buy Yahoo outright, and instead sold 25 percent of the company to Sequoia Capital for $1 million. With adult supervision in place, it was time for Yahoo to create a serious business plan.

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