September 2015 Leaders & Laggards

Leadership Leader

Yahoo_Logo_PurpleYahoo!’s Marissa Mayer is a machine. She’s doing damned good things with the company—hired in 2010, and publicly announced on that same day she was pregnant, due in September. At the time, Yahoo!’s stock was languishing around $15.

As a top Lieutenant at google (she was employee #20), Mayer was asked about her stupidly grueling schedule (about 250 all-nighters while there). She responded, “I don’t really believe in burnout.” Hell, I guess not.

Since joining Yahoo! just two short years ago, Mayer got rid of the BlackBerrys, replacing them with iPhones and Androids. She provides employees with free food, like all other Silicon Valley companies. She created a system for employees to complain about bureaucracy. She implemented Friday-afternoon meetings (called F.Y.I.’s) where employees can ask Mayer and other execs anything they want. She acquired tumblr, and made nearly $7B in an Alibaba stock sale.

In other words, she turned around a large, bureaucratic, flailing company. The Guardian,a UK based news magazine, says this about Mayer: “Newsflash: move over Gordon Gekko, women can be fat cat capitalist bastards too.”

And did I mention she’s more than doubled Yahoo!’s stock price?

And did I mention she’s again pregnant—this time with identical twins?

She’s a machine, and worthy of our Leadership Leader. 

Leadership Milquetoast

McDsFrom the “Who-gives-a-s#!t-department: Burger King intentionally disses McDonalds with a pseudo-offer to band together as one under the fake auspice of world peace.

Wait, what… huh??

That’s right. The King CEO launched a website, issues a press release, and even had mock-ups done to contain the allegedly peace-building McWhopper… all before contacting Mickey D’s CEO Easterbrook to chat. Burger King (a division of Canadian Tim Horton’s), slipping to #3 burger joint recently, had nothing to lose and everything to gain. But manipulative crap like that doesn’t usually sit well, and this (surprisingly) did not.

Nice try, BK. Really. I’ve got this really cool, alternative idea. Given your lackluster performance as an enterprise, the likelihood your P.E. owner will expect a real return, and McDonald’s seven straight losing quarters… how about you guys both just concentrate on building mediocre burgers and call it a day?

Sometimes, mediocrity is a function of bad decision-making. Like this.

Leadership Laggard

Madison_logoThis one is easy. Ashley Madison, come on down…!

Life is Short. Have an Affair.” This is the Ashley Madison website slogan. The website, recently hacked and had its subscriber base made public, makes its money selling the chance of an affair to men. I say “men,” since they are the only ones who pay to use the website.

So, this paragon of ethics is having a bit of a struggle; seems when married people subscribe to a website for cheaters, they want some degree of confidentiality. Whouldathunkit??

Never mind all the really easy name-calling and labels. The best part is that the CEO (actually parent company CEO), Noel Biderman, recently “stepped down” in “the best interest of the company.” Biderman, hailed as both “the most hated man on the internet” and “the King of Infidelity” apparently was taking advantage of the services himself, much to the surprise of many (presumably, even his wife). Having pick of the litter, he connected—and had affairs—with multiple “subscribers.”

There’s an executive perk you don’t see every day.

From a business perspective (though the scurrilous stuff is much more fun), this was a company on a meteoric path, doing less than $30M in 2009 and almost $115M last year. It had its sights on a European-based IPO soon, hoping to raise $200M on a $1B valuation.

Rotsa ruck with that.