Will Yahoo’s Radical Transparency Pay Off?

Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer brought her A-game to Yahoo management. The company is gearing up to re-enter the search and advertising market under her watch, with promises of a revamped homepage and email service. Hoping to begin a tradition of “radical transparency,” Mayer will go over slides from her “strategy and vision” presentation that she gave to the board on September 21 in two meetings open to all Yahoo employees.

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“We want to offer you transparency into what happens at the board level as well as guidance as to where the company is going,” Mayer noted in a memo about the upcoming meeting. Sharing board presentations is a rare move, particularly at the “old Yahoo” before Mayer showed up. The new strategy will lay it all out for the entire company.

Mayer is pointing Yahoo right in the face of her old employer. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is of course the reigning champion in search, and Gmail is nearly ubiquitous. But the whole world of advertising is changing, and people may be ready for a change in how they use the Internet. Mayer sees a generation of Google users who could be looking for a change of pace. Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is shaping up to be a serious contender, and with social search looming ominously somewhere on the horizon, Yahoo may seek to rekindle its relationship with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Such a partnership could bring back some of the momentum that the companies seem to have lost recently.

Under Mayer’s watch, the Yahoo of the future has been and will be nothing like the Yahoo of the past. The new CEO put the whole train in reverse when she showed up, buying dinner and smartphones for employees. She even allowed an employee to remove the “registered trademark” symbols from the logos at the Yahoo campus. The culture shift Mayer has brought to Yahoo could spur the kind of hard work and innovation that will be necessary to turn the company around, and put it back at the top of the game.

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