There in Yahoo's quarterly financial report on Tuesday —Marissa Mayer's first day as CEO — was the basic problem she faces.
Revenue and profit were stalled at last year's levels. Although Yahoo has amassed a huge audience, some advertisers are looking elsewhere. The first problem she faces is Yahoo’s identity crisis.
Previous CEOs have had a difficult time trying to define what Yahoo actually does.“The age-old question with Yahoo has been: Is it technology first or is it media or content first?” said David Cohen, the chief media officer at Universal McCann.
With 700 million users, Yahoo still draws one of the largest audiences on the Web. More people use Yahoo’s e-mail service than any other service. Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Flickr, the photo site, are the most popular in their categories.
But over the last few years Yahoo’s advertisers have started experimenting with new platforms, most notably Facebook, to counter financial pressures.
The choice of Mayer, who oversaw some of Google's most successful products — the search engine business, Gmail and Google Maps among them — suggests that Yahoo may turn its focus to new products, like mobile technologies.
Mayer said, in an interview on Monday,“I’m interested in what Yahoo can do with video and mobile, both of which are very promising.”