I Don't Care if Marissa Mayer Has a Baby, as Long as She Does Not Change Yahoo

If Marissa Mayer succeeds, we all fail.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:00am | Leave a comment

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I guess I don't get the big deal about Yahoo!'s new CEO, Marissa Mayer.

Sure, she's a woman. Yes,  she's coming to a struggling technical corportation from  Google. OK, she's pretty and very young. But I don't see people in terms of physical beauty, or age or race or professional cachet. I see them as people. This is another situation in which we should all just take a moment, and maybe a deep breath, and try to be a little more like me.

 

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Also, I guess it's a big deal that she's pregnant. But to me, pregnancy is like a brief, treatable illness with annoying long-lasting side effects. You know, like if Lyme Disease made you think that people on Facebook care about how much sleep you get.

My only concern is that Marissa keeps Yahoo! exactly the same.

I'm dead serious here. Of course, I have gmail and my own domain name, but I still have a Yahoo! email address, mostly because it had the swiftest setup for burner accounts for things like trolling Craigslist missed connections and gaming food delivery sites for "Refer a Friend" discounts. I used one exclusively for deal-of-the-day web sites and to aggregate notifications from social networks, my bank, and utility companies.

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My Yahoo! account, is, in a way, my broccoli rubber band, matchboook, and loose IKEA screw junk drawer. It has its purpose but it is, at the end of the day, only a place I go when I'm looking for a lost phone bill or when I have a chunk of popcorn stuck in my teeth.

I visit Yahoo!'s homepage every day, mostly to check my "junk" email, but also for pranks and fodder for my Tumblr.

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I realize that some people would say that being a 29-year-old girl who uses Yahoo! Answers to upset strangers is probably a little antisocial, but to these people, I would say: I was born in Akron. Let's all calm down and be glad that it's not meth or serial murder.

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Honestly, I know that all companies who aren't Google have been in a bit of a RC Cola holding pattern for some time now. I know that bringing in new leadership from the juggernaut isn't always a winning play for tech companies, and that it might not actually do much to bring around a gilded age for a spunky little provider of frontpage content like, "Bobcat breaks into Washington prison."

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Yahoo is the dive bar of the Internet, the kind run by an old woman with a good heart, a rheumy body, and an eye on the old-fashioned cash register. The portal itself is an unself-aware cloaca of clickbait, a Times Square T-shirt shop of SEO, peopled by feeble minded ferret owners and teens who haven't figured out that you can't get pregnant from playing in a Burger King ball pit that someone has ejaculated in.

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I know that most people think many of these old-guard web companies will die along with their core demographic of confused old people.  But I know many of the people who work at them -- they're smart and funny and doing the best they possibly can. Some of them are happy there, because working in a web services company can be very nice. Some of them work there like it's PF Chang's and they're just home from Brown for the summer. Either way: I pray that the sharpest editorial minds and wittiest business strategists are stymied. I cannot have Yahoo! in the hands of capable management.

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I love Yahoo! Answers, that primordium of "How is babby formed." Sure, it's an excellent place to lose your faith in the ability of most of the planet to read and reason, but its also a beacon of hope in a way -- an intangible temple to samaritanism. While trolls exist (I'm certainly among them), there are faceless empaths who really do want to help clueless marinara shoppers find their brand, to help out lazy bloggers figure out if there are any popular songs that make mention of 80s action stars, or to reassure neurotic herbal drugs users that they probably aren't going to die from salvia.

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As a news portal, its sweet attempt to marry hard news, gopssip, human interest stories and old-racist-rage-bait is performance art worthy of the San Francisco it emulates. I realize that I work for a web site that runs heds like "It Happened to Me: I Lied About Having Armpit Crabs, Except That I Didn't," but at least we're self-aware, right?

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The fact that Mayer's been credited with the success of products like Gmail and was Google's 20th employee only worry me. She seems... capable. I just am not sure whether I want my local dive bar under excellent new management.

What if she actually brings about the turnaround she's been hired on to induct? Where will I get my Yahoofreude?

In conclusion: I think hiring this enormously talented woman who's amassed a net worth of $300 million was the right choice. But, please: Don't let her do a good job.

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