Marissa Mayer focuses Yahoo on mobile, content-centric strategy

And she could be on the right track

When Marissa Mayer came on board to run Yahoo nine months ago, I'll be honest, as smart and capable as she is, I thought there was no way she could turn that company around, but she appears to be trying to steer the ship in a different direction, firmly focused on a mobile and content-centric strategy.

First, she bought Summly for a cool $30 million, which at first glance didn't impress me much, but she was clearly focusing on mobile and that was good. She tried to buy DailyMotion, a French online video company, until that deal was quashed by the French government. Just a few weeks ago, she made a deal for exclusive rights to the Saturday Night Live archive, a move that certainly got my attention as a huge SNL fan.

And GigaOM reported that Mayer told Wired's Steve Levy at the Wired Business Conference that she's fine with people taking an a la carte approach to Yahoo services. In her view, and quite rightly I think, nobody is going to use one service for everything. The company has designed what they call a "Daily Dozen" menu of tools that includes news, weather and so forth that different people will take advantage of throughout the day.

Meanwhile, All Things Digital reports that Mayer met with Hulu executives for an early stage discussion on Yahoo possibly buying the streaming video service. Talk about a smart move. If Mayer could snag Hulu she would truly have my attention and I would be one of those customers dipping into Yahoo! on a regular basis. Today, the only Yahoo service I use regularly is Flickr, which was updated with a mobile and sharing twist at the end of last year.

If that's not enough to convince you that Mayer has her giddy-up on, how about trying to extricate her company from that 10 year search deal with Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT)? According the Wall Street Journal, that's exactly what she's doing, although Microsoft obviously has no reason to back out of that deal since it helps inflate its Bing market share numbers. The story goes onto report she would prefer to make a deal with her old friends at Google (NASDAQ: MSFT). Doesn't seem likely, but you have to like that she's trying.

I'm still more than a bit skeptical that she can turn that company around (especially with her ant-telecommuting policies), but she seems to have a plan and she is trying to find ways to implement that plan. It's going to take some big moves, like maybe buying Hulu and getting out from under that Microsoft contract, to make it happen, but I wouldn't necessarily bet against her. She has the vision, the will and the smarts, and that's a strong combination.

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