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New book details Marissa Mayer’s struggles to save Yahoo 



When Marissa Mayer showed up for her first day of work at Yahoo on the morning of July 17, 2012, she was greeted by the company’s shy cofounder David Filo, who made a show of unrolling a “large purple carpet” to lead Mayer into the office building. After walking through the doors, she saw signs welcoming her, a crowd of employees gathered to greet her and loads of gifts inside her office.

Business executives and politicians, including a White House official, had left voicemail messages to congratulate the new Yahoo CEO. NBC’s Today wanted an interview. Employees greeted her like a savior, with one hanging a poster of Mayer’s face above the word “Hope,” imitating the famous Shepard Fairey illustration of Barack Obama.

Everyone seemed fascinated in and optimistic about the smart, young, tech-savvy former Google executive who had just been added to the far too short list of women running multi-billion-dollar public tech companies. But like all honeymoons, this one wouldn’t last.

In Marissa Mayer and The Fight to Save Yahoo!, a new book out this week, Business Insider‘s chief correspondent Nicholas Carlson offers the captivating inside story of Mayer’s rise at Google, the hype around her hiring at Yahoo and the missteps in her first two years as CEO that raised concerns among employees and investors alike. [Full disclosure: Carlson was my boss when I worked at Business Insider.]

The book, which began as a long feature article published in 2013, was done without the cooperation of Mayer or Yahoo and is instead based on interviews with friends, teachers and colleagues from Yahoo and Google. It presents Mayer as a very smart — though perhaps not quite visionary — executive who struggles to relate to people and relies heavily on data, except when it matters most.

Mayer pushed to hire big name media personalities like Katie Couric and expand into more premium content without any evidence that such moves would connect with Yahoo’s audience. Several of the top executives she hired were people who reached out to her rather than the other way around. One of those, Henrique De Castro, talked a particularly good game and was apparently hired for a huge sum of money without being vetted at all by Mayer’s Yahoo. He completely failed to boost display ad sales and was ultimately pushed out of the company after just 15 months, costing the company tens of millions.

To her credit, Mayer succeeded in reenergizing Yahoo employees, speeding up product development and devoting more attention to mobile, an area that was sorely lacking in resources prior to her arrival. But as Carlson explains, her decision to implement a controversial employee review system cut into morale and the products she pushed failed to offset declines in Yahoo’s ad sales and search market share.

Throughout her first two years as CEO, Mayer’s success or failures didn’t matter all that much. Yahoo’s stock continued to trend up thanks to an investment years earlier in Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, which finally went public in September 2014. That IPO gives Mayer more cash to play with, but there is little left to camouflage the struggles in Yahoo’s core business.

For now, Mayer and her team continue to work to improve ad revenue, improve its existing product lineup and ideally find a new breakthrough product to help make Yahoo relevant again. As Carlson explains, though, that is a Herculean task.

“Ultimately, Yahoo suffers from the fact that the reason it ever succeeded in the first place was because it solved a global problem that lasted for only a moment. The early Internet was hard to use, and Yahoo made it easier. Yahoo was the Internet,” Carlson writes. “Then the Internet was flooded with capital and infinite solutions for infinite problems, and the need for Yahoo faded. The company hasn’t found its purpose since.”

Over the years, a successful Hollywood executive, a brassy self-made woman and one the company’s founders have all tried and largely failed to achieve that mission. If Mayer does end up failing, at least she will be in good company.


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Instagram has released a lightweight version of its Android app that should be easier to install and browse on devices short on storage space and on spotty connections.

TechCrunch notes that the new app, which weighs in at just 573KB, is 1/55th the size of the original app at 33MB. Naturally, you’ll find it a little lighter on functionality too: there’s no messaging or the ability to upload videos right now.

The launch is part of Facebook’s approach to reaching the next billion people who will come online for the first time in developing countries, mostly using low-cost mobile devices with limited access to connectivity and data.

Making its apps more easier to download and perform well on low-end devices is key to growing its user base around the world. To that end, Facebook made Lite versions of its apps for its social network and Messenger available years ago. Twitter has one too, and Google recently launched an optimized version of Android – complete with a suite of its essential apps – to address these needs in emerging markets.

Instagram’s been on a roll lately. It added 300 million users in a little over a year to reach 1 billion last week, and has tacked on loads more features to its service recently, including group video calls, support for longer videos in what it’s calling IGTV, tools for curating saved posts, and improving discovery.




Source: The NextWeb

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Cyber-criminals are abusing multilingual character sets to trick people into visiting phishing websites.

The non-English characters allow scammers to create “lookalike” sites with domain names almost indistinguishable from legitimate ones.

Farsight Security found scam sites posing as banks, loan advisers and children’s brands Lego and Haribo.

Smartphone users are at greater risk as small screens make lookalikes even harder to spot.

Targeted attack
The Farsight Security report looked at more than 100 million domain names that use non-English character sets – introduced to make the net more familiar and usable for non-English speaking nations – and found about 27% of them had been created by scammers.

It also uncovered more than 8,000 separate characters that could be abused to confuse people.

Farsight founder Paul Vixie, who wrote much of the software underpinning the net’s domain names told the BBC: “Any lower case letter can be represented by as many as 40 different variations.”

And many internationalised versions added just a tiny fleck or mark that was not easy to see.

Eldar Tuvey, founder and head of security company Wandera, said it had also seen an upsurge in phishing domains using different ways of forming characters.

In particular, it had seen an almost doubling of the number of scam domains created using an encoding system called punycode over the past few months.

And phishing gangs were using messages sent via mobile apps to tempt people into clicking on the similar-looking links.

“They are targeting specific groups,” Mr Tuvey said.

And research had established people were three times more likely to fall for a phishing scam presented on their phone.

“To phish someone, you just have to fool them once,” Mr Tuvey said. “Tricking them into installing malware is much more work.”

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Prepare to spend a lot more time on Instagram.

The Facebook (FB)-owned platform is rolling out a new hub for long-form, vertical video. Instagram announced the new feature at a press event on Wednesday.

The hub, called IGTV, will live within the regular Instagram app. It will also get its own standalone app in the coming days.

Anyone will be able to post to IGTV, but Instagram users with 10,000 followers or more will be able to post videos up to an hour long. Users with fewer followers can post up to 10 minutes of video. Instagram video posts were previously capped at 60 seconds.

The company has tapped celebrities such as Kim Kardashian West and Selena Gomez who will be among the first to upload longer-form content to their accounts on Wednesday.

In addition to IGTV, CEO Kevin Systrom announced a company milestone: 1 billion monthly active users now use Instagram, up from 800,000 active users in September.


instagram igtv kevin systrom

IGTV is reminiscent of Snapchat’s Discover page, which features stories from publishers and creators, and curated posts from itscommunity. Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, launched Discover in 2015 with a number of media partners, including CNN and Buzzfeed. It paid licensing fees to publishers up until recently when it reportedly shifted to an ad-based model only.

“Ads will not be part of IGTV at launch, but we’ll be exploring and test ways to help creators monetize after launch,” a spokesperson told CNNMoney.

Analysts are also comparing IGTV to Google-owned video platform YouTube.

According to media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield of BTIG, Instagram users were already using its Stories feature to link out to YouTube to direct followers to longer-form videos.

instagram igtv
The IGTV hub

“Now, Instagram can keep that in-house, and drive greater engagement and time spent,” Greenfield told CNNMoney. “I think this is a natural evolution from pictures to video, to stories and now to long-form video to capture as much human attention as possible.”

Instagrammers are spending more time than ever looking at photos, videos and memes, the company previously told CNNMoney. Users under the age of 25 now spend more than 32 minutes each day on the platform, while users age 25 and older use the app for more than 24 minutes.

While IGTV may lead people to spend more time on Instagram, Systrom previously promised to roll out a tool that will tally time spent on its app.

“Any time should be positive and intentional,” he tweeted last month.

Source: CNN TECH

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