Marissa Mayer hosts her first Yahoo shareholders’ meeting

Good products will draw more users, which in turn will draw more advertisers, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer promised shareholders Tuesday at the company’s annual meeting – her first since she took over the top job in July last year.

Mayer and Yahoo management used the event to show off some of Yahoo’s new or revamped online products, including the Flickr photo-sharing service.  She also ducked a few questions from employee activists at Walmart, where Mayer serves on the board, and ignored an awkwardly sexist comment from one older Yahoo investor.

The meeting started with a trivia contest in which an MC gave away free t-shirts to shareholders, one of whom said it was more fun than two previous Yahoo meetings he’d attended under two previous CEOs.

Mayer is the fifth CEO to run the struggling Internet pioneer in the last five years, and investors seem pleased with Yahoo’s progress under the former Google executive.  The share price is up more than 50 percent from a year ago, which Mayer claimed makes Yahoo “the best performing stock among all major industry players.”

At the meeting Tuesday, Yahoo shareholders re-elected all the directors who stood for re-election – most of whom joined the board in a major overhaul last year.  They also approved an advisory measure endorsing the company’s executive pay agreements. Mayer’s hiring package was valued at $36 million last year, including stock awards that she won’t be able to exercise right away.

Along with revamping some of Yahoo’s existing products like email, Flickr and the Yahoo  home page, Mayer promised the company will continue its focus on creating new video content and mobile services for Internet users.

“We want to build products that delight and inspire,” she said, “because for us, all of our growth starts with users. That leads to traffic and advertising and ultimately to revenue.”

Yahoo executives took a few questions from the audience, but Mayer declined to answer several Walmart employee activists who wanted to know if she would meet with them to discuss what they described as the retail chain’s retaliation against workers who spoke out against unfair job practices.

Mayer told the workers that “there’s a time and a place for everything.  The business we’re here to conduct today is about Yahoo.”

The CEO also ignored an awkward moment when an elderly shareholder took the microphone and prefaced several questions by saying “I’m Greek and I’m a dirty old man and you look attractive.”  But she responded when the same investor criticized her controversial decision to end the practice of letting Yahoo employees work from home.

“For our company at this time, it’s right to have people in the office because that’s where we find collaboration,” Mayer said, adding that some of Yahoo’s recently launched products resulted from that collaboration.

“This is important for us right now,” she said. “I wouldn’t say always, but it is for us today.”

 

 

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