Mayer Wants Internet Queen for Yahoo’s Board

Yahoo, Marissa Mayer

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) Chief Executive Marissa Mayer is looking to build out the company’s board, and according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke to Re/Code, Mayer has her eye on Silicon Valley legend Mary Meeker as one person she’d like to get on board with Yahoo.

Mayer wants to add at least two more independent directors to Yahoo’s board as soon as possible. Of particular interest to Mayer is including an independent director with an experience in tech. Meeker, who has been referred to as “queen of the Net,” has had years of experience in Internet companies from the birth of the World Wide Web. As an analyst at Morgan Stanley, Meeker published a body of important work related to investing in Internet companies and served as lead researcher for the initial public offering of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Mayer’s former employer. Meeker has long championed the stocks of successful Internet companies including Yahoo, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), and eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY). She has also had success investing in startups like Waze, Spotify, and Square.

Some believe that Yahoo needs to focus more on finding experts in dealing with public companies than with tech. Yahoo is undergoing a very public turnaround effort spearheaded by Mayer, and its board is absent of people with experience in publicly traded companies. A report from the Wall Street Journal last month said that Mayer was looking for two people with experience in running public companies to fill out the board. Only one independent member of the company’s current board — Peter Liguori, CEO of Tribune Co. — has previously run a public company.

According to sources who spoke to the Journal, Yahoo would ideally like to add two people to its seven-member board with CEO experience. Analysts believe that people with such experience would help Mayer in her decision-making as the company continues to navigate a turnaround. The problem is that Yahoo’s board roster has been rather turbulent recently, making it a less appealing place for potential members.

Mayer’s turnaround strategy has focused on improving in the mobile sphere, in which Yahoo has fallen behind competitors, and making lots of acquisitions for both engineering talent and new products. Yahoo’s fourth-quarter results saw the company meet expectations for revenue and beat the Street on earnings, but display revenue fell 6 percent on the year, showing that Yahoo has some work to do in terms of advertising despite obtaining the No. 1 desktop Web property spot several times in 2013.

According to comScore, Yahoo received 195.16 million unique U.S. desktop visitors in December, volume that represents about 87.1 percent of the total U.S. desktop Internet audience of 224 million. Yahoo beat out second-place Google, which received 192.3 million unique U.S. visitors; Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), which received 175.3 million unique U.S. visitors; and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), which received 140.8 million unique U.S. visitors.

Mayer’s efforts to make Yahoo cool again have boosted the company’s stock 150 percent since she took the helm in 2012. Better guidance and more stability on Yahoo’s board will only help Mayer’s turnaround plan if she can get those new members to stick around.

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