CEO Marissa Mayer is crafting a last-ditch plan to streamline the company — including significant layoffs — that is expected to be announced before month’s end.
SAN FRANCISCO — Marissa Mayer, the glamorous, geeky Google executive hired to turn around Yahoo in 2012, used to inspire hope in Yahoo’s workforce just by visiting the cafeteria for ice cream and mingling.
Now, morale has sunk so low that some employees refer to Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, as “Evita” — an allusion to Eva Peron, the former first lady of Argentina whose ego and climb to power and wealth were chronicled in the musical of that name.
Mayer is about to make herself even less popular with Yahoo’s nearly 11,000 employees. Faced with the failure of her efforts to reignite growth at the 22-year-old Silicon Valley company, she is turning to the opposite strategy: cutting.
As some investors press Yahoo to fire her, Mayer is crafting a last-ditch plan to streamline the company — including significant layoffs — that is expected to be announced before month’s end.
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While many Yahoo workers are keeping their heads down, just doing their jobs, others have lost faith in Mayer’s leadership, according to conversations with more than 15 current and former employees from all levels of the company, most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of continuing ties to Yahoo and its strict policy against leaks.
More than a third of the workforce has left in the last year, say people familiar with the data.
Worried about the brain drain, Mayer has been approving hefty retention packages — in some cases, millions of dollars — to persuade people to reject job offers from other companies.
But those bonuses have also created resentment among other employees who have stayed loyal and not sought jobs elsewhere.
Only 34 percent of employees believe Yahoo’s prospects are improving, according to surveys conducted by Glassdoor, a firm that collects data on jobs and employers. That compares with 61 percent who are optimistic at Twitter, another troubled tech company, and 77 percent who see a bright future at Google, Mayer’s former employer.
“Basically, it shows employees losing faith in Marissa Mayer and Yahoo,” said Scott Dobroski, a spokesman for Glassdoor who analyzed the data.
Yahoo declined to comment on employee morale but said turnover is normal at Silicon Valley companies. While thousands of people have left, many others have been hired, offsetting some of the losses.
“We’re still hiring, and our application numbers are strong,” Yahoo said in a statement.
Employees’ faith in Mayer began crumbling in earnest in August 2014, when Yahoo embarked on a series of stealth layoffs, current and former insiders said.
For months, managers called in a handful of employees each week and fired them. No one knew who would be next, and the constant fear paralyzed the company, according to people who watched the process.
Last March, Mayer told the staff at an all-hands meeting that the bloodletting was over.
Shortly thereafter, she changed her mind and demanded more cuts.
All told, about 1,100 people lost their jobs.
Contributing to the employees’ disenchantment were Mayer’s protracted deliberations over a corporate reorganization last year that led to the departure of several key lieutenants and broke up the much-ballyhooed mobile team, prompting many mobile engineers to seek other jobs.
Hanging over everything has been the uncertainty about the company’s plan to spin off its $26 billion stake in Alibaba, which was announced a year ago but was abandoned last month by the company’s board of directors because of tax concerns.