Photo: Mikael Jansson/Courtesy of Vogue.
With official re-branding less than a year underway, we're not really ready to call Yahoo! a cool, exciting player in tech again. But, we are very prepared to say that CEO Marissa Mayer is thoroughly awesome. Of course, as one of the most talked-about people in her industry and a figure changing the way women are perceived in STEM fields, that's kind of a no-brainer. But, Vogue's extensive profile on her seals the deal.
Instead of being treated to prefabricated company lines and truisms, this feels like a very enlightening and honest interview. Though it's obviously a relentlessly positive spin, the way Mayer talks about her life, her goals, and her career really gives the impression of someone with a genuine passion for her work. And, like many of us, that passion has sometimes gotten in the way of her family life. “One night," she recalls, "I looked up and was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s midnight and I have a husband and I’m, like, eight months pregnant. I need to leave!’ I was just here working, having the best possible time. When Zack and I were brushing our teeth in the morning, he was like, ‘Where were you last night?’” She's like a modern Don Draper, except instead of getting drunk in her office and passing out on her couch, she was re-coding the DNA of an American giant.
Mayer also offers some insight into her choice to ban working from home at the company, which led some to say she was ignoring the needs of mothers who don't enjoy the resources she has to care for their young children. This is one instance where her nerdiness — usually endearing — manifests itself in a slightly naive way. She says she never meant it as some grand statement, just as a measure to increase efficiency and productivity. And, while the criticisms she received may have seemed obvious to some, perhaps for her, it's proof of the fact that she really is, as she claims, "gender blind."
She is also, apparently, blind to her title as head honcho and thus participates in nearly every decision at Yahoo!. While researching the piece, writer Jacob Weisberg sat in on a meeting for an unnamed new product and witnessed Mayer red-light a project based on usability problems, after reviewing everything down to the size of the navigation buttons. And, as Weisberg points out, it might sound like micro-managing, but somehow, she's making it work. As Mayer herself points out, employees seem happier over all — or, at least, they've “stopped leaking my e-mails."
One thing we would note? Well, if this were any other (male) CEO, he wouldn't be stretched out invitingly on a lounge chair. Granted, though, Larry Page just wouldn't quite have the same allure in that stance — much less that outfit. Questionable photo choice aside, do check out the full profile on Vogue.com, which treats her with all the respect she deserves. Needless to say, we highly recommend it.