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Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo! Hardcover – January 6, 2015

4.3 out of 5 stars 110 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The New York Times says the book is "a lot of fun to read" and "an impressive feat."

The New York Times also writes, "As Nicholas Carlson demonstrates in MARISSA MAYER AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE YAHOO!, a vivid account of her vertiginous career climb, Mayer is worth paying attention to for reasons that transcend gender. Carlson presents her as a complex personality who defies most stereotypes."―

"A corporate thriller [that does] a superb job of bringing to life the dramatic story of Yahoo."―The Financial Times

"A quick, compelling read...[one that] is, without question, a riveting lens from which to study Yahoo: There are ups, there are downs, there are heroes, and there are villains."―Fortune

"Good books about business and its leaders often come in two forms: a book with a message but without a gripping narrative to tell it, or a compelling narrative bereft of a message. In this extraordinary tale, Nick Carlson takes the reader on an amazing roller-coaster ride, traversing Yahoo's ups and downs, and in the end leaving us not just with memories of a thrilling ride but with wisdom. Once, Yahoo was King of the Internet. Over its two decades, Yahoo recruited able leaders who, despite previous successes, stumbled. Sometimes they were at fault. Sometimes they were defeated by forces Hercules could not control. Among the many virtues of this book is that Nick Carlson strives to understand, not punish, the amazing cast of characters in this long-playing drama. Memories will linger long after this roller coaster stops."―Ken Auletta, author and Annals of Communications writer, The New Yorker

"Nicholas Carlson has written the inside story of one of the most fascinating tech leaders of our time, Marissa Mayer, and one of the most frustrating Internet giants of our time, Yahoo. This is a fast-paced, compelling, and detailed account of Mayer's valiant efforts to turn round a company and culture that helped create the Internet as we know it.."―Richard Wolffe, executive editor, MSNBC.com, and author of The Message

"Before there was Google or Facebook or even Amazon, there was Yahoo. It was the Internet to many in the 1990s. But it has been sick for more than a decade. In this fascinating, deeply reported tale, Nicholas Carlson, for the first time, tells us why. It's an astonishing story of mistakes and missed opportunities polluted by a startling lack of vision almost from the beginning. If you want to understand what truly scares big shots running companies in Silicon Valley, read this book. They all worry about becoming Yahoo."―Fred Vogelstein, author of Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, and contributing editor, Wired magazine

About the Author

Nicholas Carlson is Business Insider's chief correspondent. His investigative reporting rewrote the histories of Facebook, Twitter, and Groupon. His coverage of Yahoo won Digiday's award for "Best Editorial Achievement" of the year. Carlson is a frequent guest on CNBC and contributes to the Bloomberg biography series, Game Changers.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve (January 6, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455556610
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455556618
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #221,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Carlson nails it. Don't be fooled by the title. This book is only marginally about Marissa Mayer. It's the authoritative book ever written about Yahoo. Starting with the history of Yahoo, Carlson explains to the reader the origins of the famous internet brand that almost - but never made it to be the most dominant company the in world. The reader is treated to a thrilling backstory with perfect context. Regardless of your knowledge level about Yahoo, Carlson engages you the entire time. You perfectly understand the position of Yahoo through its start as a web directory in 1995 through its bumbles on acquiring Facebook or Google, and its lack of clarity about a core mission and purpose as more dominant businesses grew up around it. Only after establishing the Yahoo story - does Marissa become woven in - and Carlson gets it right. The story of her meteoric rise from top UX engineer at Google to the CEO of a famous internet brand is fascinating, whether or not you follow technology. There is a depth of understanding of Mayer, and her contrast in robotica and humanity that makes her fascinating.

This is a story, not a book. If you are looking for a page turner - the kind of story you will get through in a day - pick this up. The author tells the story in way that makes you feel smart and holds you in suspense. Adding this one to your mantle of conquered titles won't take long since you won't put it down.

Much like The Empire Strikes back, this is a cliff hanger, since the jury is still out on Yahoo's next phase.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book, contrary to the title, is not all about Mayer and her fight to save Yahoo. It is instead a history of Yahoo, the many board room drama’s it has faced, the near misses and numerous hits. There is a number of chapters focusing on Mayer at Google and how she rose up through the ranks there.

The book is fast paced and well written, taking the reader through each episode of Yahoo’s beleaguered history. I read this book, 341 pages, in one night, failing to put it down as each chapter kept my interest and excitement at how things were panning out. I knew of Yahoo’s many failures (attempt to buy Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc) but what I didn’t know was the real story behind those. Fascinating.

What was fascinating for me to learn was just how many CEO’s Yahoo went through that never knew technology - one never even used email! This was ultimately the failure that lead Yahoo to be where it is today; two founders that never had the business ambition of Page/Brin. Got the sense they were never really that passionate about the business.

Yahoo created the very industry that made it irrelevant. Netscape, an early pioneer under Jim Clark/Marc Andreessen, had the decency to call it a day and realize it was no longer in the game. Yahoo suffers the same fate, however, management have checked out, but HR haven’t been told so the payroll continues.

The sheer size of the company was staggering to learn, the amount of projects (400+) it was supporting, all with their own infrastructure and languages. There was no standard. No unifying business strategy. An example was Yahoo Photos competed with Flickr (an acquisition Yahoo made) for many years.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I bought the book primarily to research into my stock investment into Yahoo and Alibaba. On the whole, it has added to my knowledge about both companies.

1. It did a good job on the 2 reasons why Yahoo is such a troubled company - (1) poor management selection and succession planning at the Board level, (2) easy fast growth in its early life.
2. It brought out troubling aspects about Marissa Mayer's 2 years track record at Yahoo.

1. Over-dependence on Yahoo sources and English-speakers when writing about the conflicts between Alibaba and Yahoo.
2. A bit weak when projecting the future of Yahoo by relying too much upon inputs from investors versus technologists.
3. Did not address the value of Yahoo's core operating business, after the spin off of its Alibaba stake.
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Format: Hardcover
This book has it all. It's a fascinating history of the internet and a company that practically started it all, only to be left behind by more innovative competitors. It's a behind the scenes look at gritty corporate infighting. And it's an intimate portrait of a clearly brilliant, but also deeply flawed CEO.

The author has woven all these pieces together into an exciting and highly readable narrative. I'm generally a very slow reader, but I was so captivated by this story that I read the entire thing in two days. There is enough "fly on the wall" detail to make you think you're there for some interesting and sometimes downright bizarre situations (Mayer riding a Zamboni while wearing pajamas at a Christmas party!), which makes you not want to put the book down.

Ultimately, what I loved most about the book, is the way it doesn't just set out to blame Mayer for failing to turn Yahoo around, nor does it unduly praise her and simply write off the situation as hopeless for even the best executive. Rather, the book is a highly nuanced portrait that allows the reader to make their own judgements about whether Mayer, despite her obvious flaws, is the right choice for the job.
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