Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

This Week in MarissYa: iPhones for All, Flickr Love and Management Musical Chairs

Even with all the swirl around the worrisome stock declines at Facebook, Groupon and Zynga, along with happier expected new product launches from Apple and Amazon, don’t think things aren’t cooking over in the land where Marissa Mayer reigns.

In fact, the new CEO of Yahoo remains busy-busy-busy, as she continues her look-see into the nooks and crannies of the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

At the weekly Friday FYI last week, the employee questions to Mayer were getting more block-and-tackle, from queries about development tools to maligning the internal TWiki.

Most interesting, though, was a question about being able to use Apple products, especially its famous iPhone. Until now, Yahoo has largely been a BlackBerry work world, which might go a long way to explaining why it has lagged in the mobile arena.

While many Yahoos carry a second cell — usually an iPhone or a Google Android smartphone — it is not corporate policy.

Yet! Because, according to sources, Mayer declared in a recent exec staff meeting that iPhones (and also Android devices) for all was a distinct possibility.

It’s bound to be a pricey move — like her recent declaration of free food for staffers at its Sunnyvale HQ and elsewhere — but it sure will be popular.

Damn the margins — full geek ahead!

Speaking of nerds, Mayer spent a long time Friday in San Francisco with the Flickr team. There, the once trendy photo-sharing site got a lot of attention from the new boss, who loves to geek out on products. Interestingly, said numerous sources, she spent only a few minutes with the sales team in the office.

The engineer-lovefest is not going unnoticed at the company by its other units. Many in the sales, finance and media side of Yahoo are becoming worried that Mayer’s more intense focus on just products and engineers might become an issue in the future.

“It’s a bigger company than just engineers, and we pay the bills,” said one disgruntled advertising sales staffer.

Mayer certainly has lots of places to attend to, which will require that she staff up a little faster and, of course, staff down on those in current management she does not intend to keep.

Yesterday, U.S. sales head Wayne Powers left for a job at Parade Publications, while the jury is still out on a number of others, from CFO Tim Morse to media head Mickie Rosen to revenue chief Michael Barrett.

Mayer has been trying to make some hires, but they remain so far at the enthusiastic young mentee end of the talent spectrum.

Such as Andrew Schulte (pictured here), a former Google product marketing manager, who is now Mayer’s chief of staff. Described by several Yahoos to me as a “smart hipster,” he did a very short stint at hot payments start-up Square in exec comms, after leaving Google.

As with her hire of PR whatever — sorry, but given 100 percent non-calls back, I am not sure what she does — Anne Espiritu, Schulte is a more junior and less experienced manager to whom Mayer is now giving a lot of serious responsibility.

It’s a laudable idea, but Mayer will still soon need to bring in many more pairs of steadier helping hands too, given her daunting task.

That includes everything from wrapping up the Alibaba share sale deal over the next two weeks, to successfully striking another to sell Yahoo’s Japanese assets for billions, to glad-handing and reassuring nervous advertisers, to assessing potential acquisitions, to overhauling current products and services, to rejiggering its ad tech stack, to calming tetchy Wall Street investors and getting the stock moving, to considering significant layoffs … well … you get the enormity of the situation.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald