Yahoo may have found its savior
Marissa Mayer, the company's new CEO, was behind a number of Google's most brilliant concepts.
Will Marissa Mayer be the savior of Yahoo (YHOO)? This is a tough one, especially for some of us who had already declared interim CEO Ross Levinsohn the company's potential savior -- because we thought he would get the job. I thought Levinsohn would be terrific because he's been successful at multiple Web shops and because he understands the need to be disciplined. That latter quality is something Yahoo hasn't been known to exhibit since it was, well, Yahoo.
Post continues below.But I will say this. The Web experience that I used to like -- speed, information, utility -- seems to have declined. Perhaps this is a function of the need to compromise to get revenue, as it isn't necessarily the easiest area to make money in these days. Or perhaps it's because so much of what I look at seems to be because the advertising guys have taken over and distorted everything from queues to intrusive ads. Sometimes I long for the simplicity of Google's (GOOG) white screen with a blank space where I type in a question and I get an answer that I trust.
It was only after Mayer won the job that I discovered she was the inspiration behind that design. The simplicity was positively Jobs-like.
Then, last night, I was talking to Siri on my Apple (AAPL) iPhone about shutting down some apps, and she didn't understand me -- duh -- and sent over my location on a Google map, with a little blue dot that represented my house. I had once again stumbled on to Mayer's work.
In fact, it seems that a lot of what I love on Google has come from Mayer, even as I remain aware that there had to have been a ton of people involved in the process.
Now Yahoo, partners with CNBC, has a ton of catching up to do. It, like AOL (AOL), suffers from an incredible lack of cool. You often think you'll be clicking on something you would never have read if you were at a newsstand and would never trust if you were at a library. Maybe Mayer can change that.
Yahoo is also known as a tough place to work. Maybe Mayer can change that as well.
Further, Yahoo has a ton of assets that I thought Levinsohn was going to monetize. Maybe Mayer can follow through on that.
Ultimately, though, I refuse to believe that Yahoo is as bad off as so many people claim. I say that because, unlike with AOL -- which I used to go to every day -- I still use Yahoo constantly, particularly when I am on the road. It hasn't lost its loyalty, and its speed is still breathtaking.
If you combine someone who has brilliant product knowledge with someone who knows how to get the trains to run on time -- Levinsohn -- then I think you might have something big.
But if Levinsohn is out and Mayer is in, and if Mayer's skills are largely in new product, she's going to need a big team to get things going again.
Either way, you know what Yahoo really needs? It needs someone to stay as its CEO -- anyone.
In other words, the shock factor has to diminish at Yahoo, and the steady factor must come to the fore.
If that's what's going to happen here, then Yahoo is a win. After all, this "someone" worked 13 years at the site everyone loves, Google, and seems to have been far more important to the site than almost anyone knew just 24 hours ago.
Jim Cramer is a co-founder of TheStreet and contributes daily market commentary to the financial news network's sites. Follow his trades for Action Alerts PLUS, which Cramer co-manages as a charitable trust and is long AAPL.
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