Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Max Levchin Says Marissa Mayer’s “Very Ballsy Move” to CEO of Yahoo Was the Reason He Finally Took Board Seat

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When I asked him to talk to me about why he decided to finally became a director at Yahoo after what was a very long mulling that started even before former Google exec Marissa Mayer became CEO, Max Levchin alerted me earlier today to a very solid post he did on the subject on his blog, which is called “too long to tweet.”

I now remember why I really like that Max Levchin: He blogs! (Also because he is an unapologetic coffee snob.)

In his essay, he breaks down the reasons into three parts: Personal, business and sentimental.

Noting his longtime admiration of Mayer, he noted “her decision to take the top role at Yahoo! was a very ballsy move, and when she asked for my help, I was excited about working with her.” Levchin, a well-known tech entrepreneur, also wrote that he hoped for a strong Yahoo, since it was a “massive net-positive for the Silicon Valley ecosystem, the market in general, and the US economy.”

Most of all, he said, Yahoo “showed me that computer geeks can start companies that create that future. I’d love to do my part in helping the company that inspired me.”

Levchin also emailed me to add: “If she gets the place into shape, it will be the absolute greatest turnaround in Valley’s recent history, possibly ever.”

Indeed.

Sources close to the situation told me that Mayer convinced Levchin to join the board by convincing him that he’d be able to help her inject entrepreneurial vigor into the company.

That would be good, and Levchin’s post is actually one of the best recitations of the kind of spirit Yahoo needs to revive itself that I have read in a long while.

It also tracks exactly on many conversations I have had with Levchin in the past about Yahoo’s troubles. He has long been intrigued by the opportunity despite management woes, innovation doldrums and the relentless talent exodus.

But judge for yourself — here’s the whole thing:

As announced by Yahoo! this morning, I have been asked and agreed to join its Board of Directors. It is an honor to be asked, in and of itself. There are three key reasons I accepted:

Personal: I’ve long respected Marissa’s talent and tenacity. Her decision to take the top role at Yahoo! was a very ballsy move, and when she asked for my help, I was excited about working with her.

Business: a stronger, fast-growing Yahoo!, with its tremendous resources is a massive net-positive for the Silicon Valley ecosystem, the market in general, and the US economy.

Sentimental: Yahoo! was one of the first true giants created by this amazing new thing, the Web. Before Google or Facebook, before almost everything there was Jerry’s Guide, right up there with What’s New page in Mosaic. Through amazing luck, I was a Computer Science freshman at UIUC in ’93, which gave me a glimpse into the fantastic future we are now living. Yahoo! showed me that computer geeks can start companies that create that future. I’d love to do my part in helping the company that inspired me.


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When AllThingsD began, we told readers we were aiming to present a fusion of new-media timeliness and energy with old-media standards for quality and ethics. And we hope you agree that we’ve done that.

— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post