When Mayer got to Yahoo in 2012, she and her team looked at the company’s various revenue streams. She estimated that there were about 10 to 12 of them, and all of them were in decline.
"I'm a workaholic, and I like to work on really hard problems,” Mayer said. "When I asked the current leadership of the company how are we going to get any of those growing, nobody had any ideas. The answer was, ‘they're in decline. They're going to decline for the foreseeable future, they're going to decline based on industry trends, they're declining.’ That's a pretty harrowing diagnosis when you're the new CEO."
The company was losing about half a billion dollars a year, Mayer said.
"When you're a turnaround CEO, you've got to make a decision: Can you turn around the existing lines of business and get them growing again? Or do you have to invent new lines of business?" she said. "That became very clear within a matter of weeks of arriving, like, we need to create new lines of business. And so, for us, it really became about mobile. Not only just products, but mobile."
The problem, Mayer said, was that Yahoo had only about 30 mobile engineers at a company of 14,000. It was only pulling in about $11 million in mobile revenue in 2011. Still, she told the board she was betting on it.