EE204: Business Management for
Electrical Engineers and Computer Scientists

Marketing Myopia


  1. Marketing Myopia (HBS course materials)
  2. Yahoo! Inc.: Marissa Mayer's Challenge (HBS course materials)

Case Summary

In July 2012, Marissa Mayer was appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of Yahoo! Inc. and was tasked by Yahoo's board of directors with turning around the company's performance. Mayer's ascension to the top position came with a number of challenges. Yahoo had seen seven CEOs come and go in its 18-year existence, five of whom had left within the last five years. In addition, Yahoo faced a number of corporate governance challenges, including the disgraceful exit of its former CEO amid charges that he had falsified his resumé, and the demands of an activist investor who was seeking four board seats to influence the company's strategic direction. Mayer also had to decide on how best to use the proceeds from the partial sale of the company's investment in the Alibaba Group, a Chinese Internet company. Mayer had to confront these issues prior to presenting her strategic plan to the company's board in mid-September.

Discussion Questions

  1. What service did Yahoo provide when it was first founded?
  2. What was their competitive advantage at the time?
  3. How has Yahoo's market segment changed over time?
  4. How did Yahoo grow with the changing internet landscape? Were these changes wise?
  5. What does Yahoo's rapid changes in leadership over the last few years say about the company?
  6. How have "activist shareholders" affected Yahoo? Were these effects good or bad for Yahoo?
  7. In what business is Yahoo? How should they strengthen that position?
  8. How should the money from selling Alibaba equity play into this strategy?
  9. Is Marissa Mayer the right person to lead Yahoo? Why or why not?