Yahoo's new CEO Mayer takes on the mobile challenge

Tue Oct 23, 2012 9:16am EDT
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Gerry Shih

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Chief Executive Marrisa Mayer promised to modernize Yahoo's websites and make them more smartphone-friendly in her debut appearance at the helm of the struggling company, faulting it for underinvesting in the "mobile wave".

Mayer, once a rising star at Google Inc who took charge at Yahoo in July, told analysts on a conference call that she wanted to focus Yahoo's efforts around the "daily habits" of users such as email, the home page, Internet search and mobile devices.

"We're committed to going back to our roots as a consumer internet company focused on user experience," the 37-year-old Mayer said on Monday, adding that "we intend to win".

Rather than get into completely different businesses, Mayer said Yahoo would look to improve its performance and finding opportunities in its existing businesses, such as search which she said has "clear upside" potential.

But her top priority was to fashion a coherent strategy to manage the industry's transition to mobile devices, a fundamental shift that some of the most innovative Silicon Valley companies - from Facebook Inc to Google Inc - are struggling with.

"The mobile wave is a huge wave for us to ride," Mayer said on the conference call, adding that that the company had failed to capitalize on the shift to smartphones, underinvesting and "splintering" Yahoo's brands in its previous mobile efforts.

Mayer's comments, which she delivered along with third-quarter earnings results that beat analyst expectations, sent Yahoo shares up 4.6 percent to $16.49 in after hours trading on Monday.

"For people who weren't sure how she was going to come across on her first call, she definitely proved herself tonight," said RBC analyst Andre Sequin. "It seems like she really recognizes what the company is, where the strengths are and what the opportunities are."   Continued...

A Yahoo! billboard is seen in New York's Time's Square January 25, 2010. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid