Yahoo’s Mayer Sees Future in Personalized, Mobile Web

Yahoo! Inc. Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer said the company is working on technology that will personalize content from the Web and deliver it to people on their mobile devices.

Users’ data will make it possible to create a so-called interest graph to show what people have in common, helping create a personalized Internet, Mayer said yesterday in an on-stage interview with Bloomberg’s Erik Schatzker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Details such as financial quotes, news, sport scores and photos should be available no matter what device a person is using, she said.

“The nice thing at Yahoo is we have all of the content people want on their phones,” Mayer said. “There’s an opportunity, not only to provide that value to the end user, but also to create a great business.”

Mayer has invested in wireless technology as she attempts to win users and advertising revenue from Facebook Inc. and her former employer, Google Inc. Since becoming CEO in July, she has updated Yahoo’s Flickr application for photos, acquired mobile-app startup Stamped and announced plans to hire engineers with expertise in smartphones and tablets.

“We think about how do we take the Internet and order it for you,” Mayer said. Yahoo intends to be “a feed of information that is ordered, the Web is ordered for you and is also on your mobile phone.”

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Mayer, Yahoo’s fifth CEO in four years, is striving to reverse the three straight annual sales declines that resulted as Web users flocked to Facebook and Google. Since she was hired in July, shares of the Sunnyvale, California-based company have climbed about 30 percent.

Advertising revenue can be generated from the personalized experience Yahoo envisions, Mayer said. She said marketing dollars always follow users.

“There is a way that you can introduce advertising such that it’s not intrusive, it actually adds value to the end user, and it actually enhances the experience,” Mayer said. “And that’s what we need to work on.”

Mayer also is making a point of collaborating with companies such as Apple Inc., Google and Facebook, instead of competing.

“It ultimately means there’s really an opportunity for strong partnerships,” she said.

Mayer has made the recruitment and retention of talent a priority. She has filled out her management bench with Chief Operating Officer Henrique de Castro and Chief Financial Officer Ken Goldman, and sought to acquire small technology startups for their experienced engineers.

“Tech companies live and die by talent,” Mayer said. “I got very focused on people, building the right team, particularly the executive layer, but all through the business and also the overall environment.”

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