Yahoo CEO says turnaround is on track
Yahoo Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, in her first annual meeting with shareholders, said Tuesday that the biggest U.S. Web portal is making headway in efforts to attract shutterbugs and users of mobile devices.
The number of daily active users for the Flickr photo app has jumped 50 percent since it was redesigned in May, while use of mobile email has climbed 70 percent since an overhaul in April, she said.
“All of our growth is going to start with our users,” Mayer said at the company’s annual meeting in Santa Clara, Calif.
Mayer, the third CEO to preside over the annual meeting in as many years, highlighted user growth, new employee perks and deals such as last month’s $1.1 billion purchase of blogging platform Tumblr as evidence that her turnaround is taking root. Yahoo shares have climbed more than 50 percent since her hiring in July — outperforming display-advertising rival Facebook over the same period, she said during the meeting.
Yahoo shareholders questioned Mayer on competition, her decision earlier this year to ban working from home and whether she plans to root for the Green Bay Packers or the San Francisco 49ers during the football season opener this fall.
“The great dilemmas of our time,” Mayer, a Wisconsin native, told the audience. “Go Packers.”
Mayer, who sits on the board of Wal-Mart Stores, was also confronted by three current or former employees of the world’s largest retailer. These attendees asked for her support on worker-rights issues.
“There’s a time and place for all business,” Mayer said. “This morning’s business is about Yahoo, which is separate from Wal-Mart.”
Mayer took the reins last year from Ross Levinsohn, who presided over the previous shareholder meeting in his role as interim CEO. Carol Bartz, who held the top spot at Yahoo until her firing in 2011, led the annual meeting that year.
Mayer’s push to revamp products such as Yahoo’s home page and email had done little to reverse a decline in display-ad sales, an area where Google and Facebook are gaining ground.
Yahoo’s share of global revenue from online ads may slip to 3.1 percent this year from 3.4 percent in 2012, according to researcher eMarketer. Google’s portion is estimated to rise to 33 percent from 31 percent, while Facebook may increase its share to 5 percent from 4.1 percent.
Adding Tumblr will expand Yahoo’s audience by 50 percent to more than 1 billion monthly visitors, increasing traffic by about 20 percent, Yahoo said last month.
Mayer has purchased at least 11 companies during her tenure as CEO, from mobile-application makers Stamped and Jybe to Summly, the news-reading app created by teenager Nick D’Aloisio. Before Tumblr, most of her deals have been small and focused on gaining talent, an approach she advocated during her first conference call with analysts last year.