Marissa Mayer’s Plan for Yahoo Takes Hold. The Question Now Is Time.

Marissa Mayer’s Plan for Yahoo Takes Hold. The Question Now Is Time.

When Marissa Mayer was offered the chief executive job at Yahoo in the summer of 2012, she had a script for returning the pioneering Internet company to the tiny club of Silicon Valley powerhouses.

To many in the tech industry, the very thought of Yahoo regaining prominence was a reach. Its revenue had been flat or declining for the previous five years. Google and Facebook had long taken the lead, and a new generation of tech start-ups was starting to elbow its way into the spotlight. Yahoo? It was an afterthought.

The turnaround plan created by Ms. Mayer, a celebrated, though recently sidelined, executive at Google, was simple: Stop the downward spiral and increase Yahoo’s revenue within two or three years. After that, Ms. Mayer said she believed she could achieve double-digit annual growth by five years.

If Ms. Mayer could pull it off, she would become a business legend. Or, as had happened to several excessively optimistic executives before her, Yahoo could become her Waterloo.

Ms. Mayer has been on the job for two and a half years. It is way too soon to say if Yahoo is rebounding from irrelevance. But although she has made some mistakes, she has also made some sharp acquisitions and rebuilt crucial products that have helped increase the company’s audience in areas like mobile devices.

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