Marissa Mayer rarely speaks in public, but when she does, she doesn't hold back. In particular, the Yahoo CEO had plenty to say about the company's culture and her knack for recruiting--and keeping--great talent during Wired's Business Conference Tuesday.
"For each of the executive hires I've made--and every hire I've made--I've gotten the exact person I wanted," she told Wired writer Steven Levy. "It's been surprisingly easy to assemble what I think is the best and brightest team."
The company, she suggested, sells itself. Mayer said she was personally drawn to Yahoo not only because she "felt the love" and "could see the usefulness of the products" but because her team of savvy engineers, content creators, and curators share her compulsion to get them to market. In fact, Mayer prides herself on how quickly she's released many of them, including Yahoo! Weather, a Flickr-driven iOS /Android app, which launched in April. "We've been releasing things a few times a week," she told the crowd at the New York Historical Society. And the company plans to do more.
Mobile remains a key focal point for Yahoo, as consumers' consumption habits continue to evolve and the company tries to stay relevant. "We call it the daily habit," Mayer said, reiterating Yahoo's new mission statement to be at the center of users' lives: "mail, stock quotes, search, games, sharing on Flickr, group communication." Summarizing the news will also become a "cornerstone" as the company rolls out apps like Summly Tech, its rebooted Android version of news app Summly, which it acquired in March for a reported $30 million.
One thing not on Mayer's agenda: tweaking Yahoo's DNA. "My goal was to basically take the really great things and amplify them, and turn off the few things that are getting in the way," she said. "I'm not trying to inject new mutant DNA." Of course, the number of start-ups she's acquired in her nine months since joining Yahoo--seven to date, including to-do app Astrid May 1--makes that point debatable.
Still, Mayer contends she's getting the "right people into the right roles" and responding swiftly to consumer demand, especially on mobile. Though she declined to give specific stats on Yahoo! Weather, Mayer did mention the app, with its sleek design and geo-tagged photos, was a "runaway success" that hit user goals in only four days.
Mayer attributes that success to how well her media, sales, and tech teams work in concert with one another. "There's a geeky vibe and a love of pop culture... and a real respect for creators," she said. And it's unlike the other big tech companies in Silicon Valley. "It's different than Google, or Facebook, or Twitter," she stressed. Very different, indeed.