Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO:US) Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said she plans to focus on mobile applications and strengthening ties to Facebook Inc. to bolster turnaround efforts at the biggest U.S. Web portal.
“A lot of the strengths of Facebook are available to Yahoo users,” Mayer said yesterday at an investor conference in San Francisco hosted by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “That’s something we want to build upon. We have a real commitment to bringing valuable content to our users.”
Since Mayer arrived as CEO last year, Yahoo has ceded share in its core business of display advertising. This year, Yahoo’s share of the U.S. market will slip to 8 percent, from 9.3 percent in 2012, according to researcher EMarketer Inc. Google Inc. will widen its lead to 18 percent from 15 percent last year, while Facebook will advance to 15 percent from 14 percent.
To court users and advertisers, Mayer said she’ll focus on “the dozen or so applications that people use all the time on their phone.” That means slimming down from the 60 to 75 or so applications Yahoo now offers, she said.
“How many people at least once a day mark an e-mail as unread on their phone, just so they can go back later and read it on their PC?” Mayer said. “There’s a clear opportunity for innovation. The tool just doesn’t work that well right now. These are the types of things we’re thinking about.”
Turnaround efforts will target changes that can get users interacting more, and for longer periods of time, she said last month. In the same way that recent updates to the Flickr image- sharing service got users uploading 25 percent more photos, and an overhaul of Yahoo Mail resulted in a higher portion of ads being clicked, the company hopes to refresh sites such as Yahoo Finance and Yahoo News, Mayer said.
To help its push for product improvements, Yahoo hired 120 new employees with computer science degrees in the fourth quarter, Mayer said. She also brought on Sandy Gould, a former recruiting executive at Walt Disney Co., to lead talent acquisition and development.
Enhancing social features is crucial to Yahoo’s success, Mayer said, as she reinforced her preference to partner with companies like Google, Apple Inc. and Facebook rather than build expensive new products.
“One of the things that people really want to do is share their interests with their friends,” she said. “We need to have sharing built as a fundamental component.”
Yahoo’s shares advanced 1.5 percent to $21.21 at yesterday’s close in New York. The stock has gained 36 percent since Mayer was named CEO in July, compared with an 11 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s Index.
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