17:33 GMT, 25 August 2013
19:54 GMT, 25 August 2013
Close Call: Tumblr founder David Karp (L) poses after a news conference with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (R) following Yahoo’s acquisition of Tumblr in Times Square on May 20, 2013 in New York City
Marissa Mayer’s $1.1 billion takeover of Tumblr came within one phone call of being scuppered by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg according to a new unauthorized biography of the Yahoo CEO.
According to Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson, Sandberg phoned Tumblr CEO David Karp’s cellphone in the spring after reading a report that Yahoo were in the final stages of purchasing the blog.
The phone call went to voice-mail and the message only asked that Karp phone Sandberg back, but the Tumblr board refused to sanction beginning a bidding war that could have caused Mayer to back-out and the deal was rapidly concluded.
The purchase of Tumblr has been to
date, Mayer’s most significant act as CEO of Yahoo, after taking control
of the languishing tech-giant in July 2012.
and instituting an infamous ban on working from home, has led to Mayer,
with her good looks and love of designer Oscar De La Renta, totally
changing the image of Yahoo from that of corporate dinosaur to the
leading internet destination – besting Google last month for the first
time in 18 months.
new biography of Mayer delves into the past of the Silicon Valley
legend, painting a picture of a work obsessed, driven success story, who
was one quick away from never joining Google in the first place.
at the end of her senior year at Stanford in 1999, Mayer’s brilliance
had caused her to already be faced with 12 job offers.
Near Miss: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, phoned Tumblr’s David Krp (right) in spring to try and hijack Yahoo’s billion dollar acquisition of the micro blogging website
So, ‘When yet another pitch from a recruiter popped up in her inbox, she tapped on her keyboard’s delete key to get rid of it,’ writes Carlson.
‘Only she missed. Instead of hitting delete, Mayer hit the space bar and opened the email. That email’s subject line: ‘Work at Google?’
Carlson explains that high achiever Mayer was worried that Google had a small profile, but then she remembered that one of her trusted professors had highly recommended the company’s founder’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page.
Responding to the email to agree to an interview, Mayer was apparently worries by Google’s weird name – but got over her reservations to join as a programmer, where she stayed for 13 years.
Indeed, Carlson goes into huge detail about the early life of Mayer, who is now worth upwards of $300 million and lives in the $5 million penthouse of the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto.
As a teenager, Mayer was drawn to ‘a particular kind of nurturing, mentoring adult: coaches, teachers, counselors, and instructors,’ writes Carlson.
Google founders Larry Page (R) and Sergey Brin (L) speak at a press conference announcing Google’s launch of a new transit mapping feature of Google Maps – which Marissa Mayer’s worked on for the tech giant
In a charming anecdote, her fifth grade teacher says that Mayer refused to leave his classroom on the last day of school, because she had no desire to go to middle school.
And instead of playing a practical joke on her teachers on the last day of school, she instead ‘snuck into her AP Lit teacher’s classroom to decorate it like a jungle because she was so inspired by the teacher’s lesson on ‘Heart of Darkness’.
Being a teacher’s pet never left Mayer and in 2010, when she was inducted into Wausau School District’s ‘Alumni Hall of Fame’, she gave a speech in which she thanked her favorite teachers, listing them by name.
‘About six names in, the timbre of Mayer’s voice actually breaks towards a sob, and she has to catch herself with a breath and a small gulp. She can’t stop her eyes from swelling with held-back tears, though.’
Described as naturally shy, Carlson writes that the majority of people who meet her mistake this characteristic for being ‘stuck up’.
Driven to Succeed: Marissa Mayer (L) and husband Zachary Bogue – Mayer is the subject of a new biography which portrays her as a high achiever who has difficulties communicating with other people outside of the academic world
One old school friend says that Mayer was ‘kind to everyone’, but ‘She would be the person to come down, get something to eat from the kitchen of the vending machines, and then she would go to the library or the science lab to study,’ writes Carlson.
‘She wouldn’t be the one to stay and sit there and converse for 20 minutes.’
Dedicated to learning, Mayer was remembered by one classmate as not ‘one of those people into making new friends around the dorm. She was always doing something more important than just chilling.’
Enormously succesful at Google where she was responsible for the the look and feel of the iconic homepage and also the development of Google Maps into the world’s premiere internet mapping service, Mayer was enticed to Yahoo in a series of top secret interviews.
Supported as the replacement for Ross Levinsohn by hedge fund manager, Dan Loeb, the brilliant Mayer decided that the enitre work culture of Yahoo needed to be changed.
Hedge fund manager Daniel S. Loeb, founder of Third Point LLC, was instrumental in the decision not to appoint Ross Levinsohn (right) as Yahoo’s new CEO and instead install Marissa Mayer
She wanted staff to change attitudes from a 10 a.m. start and 4 p.m. finish to a 8 a.m. start and a 7 p.m. finish.
Her attention to detail reached Steve Jobs levels of attentiveness when staff presented her with the new version of Yahoo Mail.
Launched in December 2012 at the fastest speed of any new product that Yahoo had ever done, Carlson writes, ‘For months, it had been decided that the new Yahoo Mail’s colors would be blue and gray,’ because the ‘most subtly contrasting colors possible’, were thought to be the best for users.’
However, the day before the scheduled launch date, Mayer’s decided to swtich to the company’s signature purple and yellow, meaning ‘that some unlucky group of people were going ot have to manually go and change the color in literally thousands of places.’
Working Mom: Marissa Mayer with her son Macallister at Yahoo’s headquarters for their Halloween party of 2012
Carlson writes that eventually four people quit over the fall-out from this decision.
Other’s though, were comfortable with the change. ‘Their view is that Mayer refused to launch a product that she didn’t think was finished,’ writes Carlson.
‘A product’s color may seem superficial, but Mayer is obsessed with data that shows it is not. At Yahoo’s sale, if you can change a color a little bit and effect theperformace by some factor of .01 percent, that translates into millions of dollars.’