How does one go about finding a CEO? If you’re Wal-Mart, you designate your heir like a Viking chief, picking the strongest of your children. If you’re Yahoo!, however, you put “Affirmative Action Hire” or “Easy, Breezy, Covergirl” in your third-rate search engine and hope for the best. What dubious specimen does the search engine spit out? One Marissa Mayer.Men build, women buy. That, in four words, explains why affirmative-action token CEOs are dangerous, particularly when the economy is contracting. What might work just fine in a boom economy is not going to work in a bust economy.
When Mayer and Yahoo! first jumped into bed together, it began like any relationship between a glamorous young woman and an ageing, increasingly desperate sugar daddy. She erratically spent all of Yahoo!’s money. Not only that, but she spent it on Tumblr. For goodness’ sake, the new CEO of the company and she blows a billion dollars on Tumblr.
The jokes write themselves. But just in case you’re out of ink: a token female CEO who immediately goes on a disastrous spending spree — colour me shocked!
Investors seem to be clocking on to the disastrousness of their board’s decision, and are at last pushing for the beleaguered CEO’s removal. Eric Jackson, CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, recently wrote an op-ed for Vanity Fair explaining why investors wanted her gone. “Mayer’s leadership run at Yahoo may only have four more weeks,” he predicted.
Especially in light of this surprising fact: "Despite representing 4.2 per cent of the Fortune 500, not one company with a woman CEO has engaged in meaningful downsizing."
It's fun to buy companies. It's not fun to lay people off. Laying people off causes feelbads for everyone.