Marissa Mayer has opened up about missed opportunities and regrets from her time at Yahoo, including which company the internet giant purchased.
Mayer served as CEO of Yahoo from 2012 to 2017 during a period of significant decline for the company. One of her worst decisions was spearheading the purchase of Tumbler for $1.1 billion in 2013. Mayer has admitted in an interview with Tech Brew that Hulu or Netflix would have been a much better option.
Senior Reporter Patrick Kulp asked Mayer what her biggest regret was from her time at Yahoo. Mayer said there were actually three:
My perspective on Yahoo is there are probably three things I would have done differently. One is obvious—I hired the wrong COO; I would have hired a different COO. I would have hired [current Integral Ad Science CEO] Lisa Utzschneider, who became my chief revenue officer. And that would have been great.
We looked at a transformative acquisition, and we bought Tumblr. At the same time, we were also considering whether it was possible to buy Hulu or, ironically, Netflix. And I think Netflix was 4 billion and Hulu was at 1.3 billion at the time. And either of those, with hindsight being 20/20, would have been a better acquisition.
And probably the biggest one—if you made me name just one—is that we should have done the tax-free Alibaba spinoff to separate the assets of the company. Because one, if we had done that, it would have saved $10 billion for our shareholders or made them that money, whichever way you look at it, in taxes that were paid. And two, it would have allowed Yahoo to continue as an independent company, and it would have potentially had more success. Now it is an independent company and privately held by private equity. But I’m not sure that the foray through Verizon was as helpful to some of the technologies and what they had to offer as it could have been.
It’s interesting that missing out on a Netflix or Hulu acquisition ranks among Mayer’s top three regrets at Yahoo. Despite the hefty purchase price, Yahoo was never able to capitalize on Tumblr and ultimately wrote down its value by $230 million a mere three years later.