Yahoo has a new CEO coming on board. Marisa Mayer, currently a senior executive at Google, has been picked as the fifth CEO of the troubled Internet portal company in five years. Almost simultaneous with the announcement of her selection, word came out that she was pregnant. The prospective CEO has declared her intention to be in the office right up until her due date, and continue working remotely during the few weeks she will be off after her delivery.
Reaction to Ms Mayer news has been mixed. Some commentators are jubilant over the prospect that such a high profile executive will show that women can fill the highest positions and still have children. Others have expressed concern the Ms. Mayer will raise the expectation that every woman should take minimal leave, and come right back to work. Still others have raised the point that her resources dwarf those of the average working woman, making any comparison moot. As a wealthy woman (employee #20 at Google), she can not only afford a live-in nanny, she could bring in her own wet nurse if she so chose.
Now, maybe she can skip right over the normal fuss and bother associated with bringing a new human into the world. She might be just that good. Yahoo’s Board of Directors clearly thought so. But one of the things I’ve observed about having children, particularly for the first time, is that it is an unpredictable process. Maybe she’ll be able to do a videoconference in the delivery room, and send emails between pushes. Maybe there will be no postpartum depression, and the child will be perfectly healthy. And maybe not.
Yahoo is a company in crisis. They are losing market share in the Internet search market, their stock price is in the tank, and they’ve had five years of failed strategic shifts and management turnover. A corporate turnaround like Yahoo’s is one of the riskiest business propositions around, and now the Board of Directors have added a whole new level of risk to the equation.
Any candidate could have health problems arise after being hired. Nothing is certain in this world. But pregnancy is known to be a significant risk, and the Board appears to have ignored it, based on the statements of a woman who doesn’t know what she is talking about, because she has never gone through childbirth before.
Based on her track record, I sure wouldn’t bet against Ms. Mayer. But I wouldn’t bet on her either. Yahoo looks like a really dicey proposition to me. I am going to hold off on buying Yahoo stock.
Yeah, like I’ve got money lying around to buy stock with.