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Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Execs Have Had Enough of Mayer: Katie Couric Mulls Exit

Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO)

Yahoo! Inc.’s  CEO Marissa Mayer is having a hard time holding on to many of the execs she brought in to help her right the ship. Recently, several key execs have left Mayer’s side and Katie Couric is mulling her exit as well. Many were caught off guard when Yahoo!’s CEO made some severe remarks about some of the recently departed execs. In response, Mayer had her own honesty called into question.

Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO)

Jackie Reses has left the firm to work for Square. She had been in charge of mergers and acquisitions at Yahoo and was one of Mayer’s closest confidants. Kathy Savitt, who ran Yahoo! Inc’s marketing is now with STX Entertainment. Both Reses and Savitt were hand-picked by Mayer.

The loss of Reses and Savitt prompted Mayer to make a statement. In the statement she claimed that the changes in Yahoo’s exec team were the result of a plan to “achieve passion, necessary skills, and ability to boost growth”.

Was this Mayer’s way of saying that Savitt, Reses and other departed executives lacked lacked the qualities she is looking for in her team? That would reflect poorly on Mayer as she is the one who hired Savitt and Reses to help her improve the firm.

Here’s a list of other Yahoo execs who have left the firm:

  • Alex Stamos, former Chief Information Security Officer who is now at Facebook
  • Scott Burke, Senior VP of Advertising and Data Platforms who left for Helix
  • Lisa Licht, former Marketing Partnerships Executive Lisa Licht

Most of Yahoo’s executives who have left, cite Mayer’s controlling management approach as the cause for their exit.

Katie Couric Rumored to Be Leaving

Now, another Yahoo star, Katie Couric, is thinking about handing in her resignation letter. The surprise move comes just a year after she signed a fresh contract valued at $10 million.

Rather than follow her departed colleagues, Couric stayed put to key an eye on the bidding process for the sale of Yahoo’s core Internet business. However, she seems to have had a change of heart since Yahoo began to shut down a some sites and laid off employees early this year.

Couric was affected by Yahoo’s inability to change its strategy and layout to make it easier for her fans to find her content on the firm’s site. Though she was hired as the Global News Anchor three years back, the firm has never promoted her content on the front page of its site.

What is even more puzzling is the fact that Yahoo itself listed Couric’s video content as a large asset. Couric’s interviews have garnered at least 400 million views, with traffic doubling in 2015 from a year earlier.

One sign that things aren’t going well is the fact that Couric has been strangely absent from many of Yahoo’s public events. These include its yearly NewFront advertising meeting and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Insiders say Couric skipped the White House meeting as she was scheduled to attend a conference in Italy. Couric reportedly taped segments for uploading to her site when she was there.

Couric was a key figure at last year’s annual conference for advertisers, but this year she skipped event so she could attent the premiere of a non-Yahoo film titled “Under the Gun”.

So far, Couric has only said nice things about Yahoo despite her very real frustrations. She has often praised Mayer as having done a great job despite her every move being dissected by skeptics and critical analysts.

Key Cog in Yahoo’s Plans to Invest Big in Video Content

Couric was one of Mayer’s biggest hires, signing a deal valued at $6 million per year. She was sold as being a key part of Yahoo’s attempt to build video content.

Other Yahoo execs that are reportedly unhappy include David Pogue, a tech writer; and Joe Zee, Editor-in-Chief of Yahoo Style. The duo have complained for a long time that the site makes it too difficult for users to find what they have posted. They believe Yahoo has reduced ads budget resulting in the site getting less traffic to their content.

Couric remains a high value asset to Yahoo, if her strong numbers are to be believed. Her Prince obituary video was an instant hit, with 5 million viewers flocking to the site. She has praised her team for helping create high-quality content daily, the uncertainty surrounding the company all the same.

As for Mayer, who is widely known for her engineering prowess and Stanford credentials, it is no surprise that she is unable to turn around Yahoo. Her troubles started when she made a widely-criticized move to ban telecommuting by Yahoo employees. Surprisingly, she proceeded to build a nursery within the company’s premises for herself.

Mayer later followed those decisions with a slew of cost-cutting measures such as laying off employees. Her strategy has failed to bear fruit in the nearly four years since she took over the reins. Some staff members have said that she rarely listens to anyone, and isn’t handling the pressure well. Her tight-fisted approach has put her on a collision path with Yahoo investors, with some such as Starboard Value LP calling for board changes.

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