Whats up at Yahoo!? Marissa Mayer axes Henrique de Castro

With each controversial decision made, sometimes I wish I could be the proverbial fly on Marissa Mayer’s wall. What I mean is, I am still making up my mind as to the type of leader that she embodies. Ruthless? Calculating? Maybe she is simply making unpopular decisions for the greater good, only her inner circle knows for sure. Given the direction of the global flexible office, I disagreed with her 2013 policy on remote working, then I read Business Insider’s 20,000-word exposé which didn’t exactly paint a glowing portrayal. She certainly appears to court controversy. The latest episode is Henrique de Castro, the former Google high-profile exec that joined Yahoo! soon after she took charge, will be leaving well compensated after only 15 months on the payroll.

No official word yet as to why. During his recruitment, Ms Mayer has cited Mr de Castro’s Web experience as an integral asset. Tech site Re/code appears to have acquired an internal memo which leaves the decision open to speculation. Speaking to Yahoo staffers she said:

“The beginning of a new year always provides time for reflection. As we enter 2014, I couldn’t be more proud of what Yahoo accomplished in 2013 or more optimistic about what we’ll accomplish in 2014. “During my own reflection, I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company. I appreciate Henrique’s contributions and wish him the best in his future endeavors”.

Jay Yarow from Business Insider thinks that Ms Mayer finally dropped the ball on this one. “From the moment De Castro was hired, people warned that he was a big mistake for Yahoo. Yet, Mayer plowed ahead, hiring De Castro, likely because when she started at Yahoo she had a blind spot for how the ad industry really works.”

Marissa Mayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Could it be that Mayer is merely tidying up house now? It has been alleged that De Castro had absolutely zero experience leading a large Ad sales force. In September last year Yarow, cited Mike Shields at AdWeek  who referred to numerous sources, that De Castro was on his last legs with CEO Marissa Mayer after failing to realize definitive Ad sales results. As a leader, she appeared to ignore warning signs and stuck to her rationale to press ahead with hiring De Castro, what does that say about her?

To her credit, Marissa Mayer has displayed speed of execution when implementing difficult change at Yahoo but that has not translated into the bottom line- increased ad revenue. Yahoo has also regained its position as the top web property in the U.S., according to comScore, but lets not forget it was overtaken by Facebook and Google previously. According to eMarketer, 2013 saw Yahoo drooping behind Microsoft, with  5.9% of USD digital Ad revenue.