Women Love Bad Boys … er, Businesses

by Alyssa Oursler | July 20, 2012 8:00 am

Women Love Bad Boys … er, Businesses

Lots of annoying but catchy clichés about girls get thrown around all the time. I’ve heard people say “women love bad boys” more times than I can count, while a glut of magazines talk about the idea of a “fixer-upper man” — “You think you can change him, but you just can’t!” the headlines scream at us.

They’re the kind of generalizations and advice that I usually roll my eyes at. But, lately, they seem all too true — in the tech world, that is. More than one lady CEO has been in cahoots with a tech business that’s bad, and not in some cool, motorcycle-driving, cigarette-smoking, macho-man kind of way.

No, I mean these guys are just downright awful.

Let’s start with Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO[1]), a company that was once on top of the Internet world and now has been humbled by competition from the likes of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG[2]) and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB[3]).

As you all know by now, former Google executive Marissa Mayer will be Yahoo’s latest CEO[4]. All eyes have been on her this week between the fact that there’s a baby on board[5] and the fact that … well … Yahoo kind of sucks.

Remember, this is a company that’s seen five chiefs in the past five years — Mayer will be the third in just the last 12 months — and none of her predecessors have been able to do much to revive what once was a top tech company.

Also remember that Yahoo rejected Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT[6]) $44.6 billion offer in 2008. Revenue has been crushed since then: in 2008, it was over $7 billion. In 2011, it wasn’t even $5 billion, and Yahoo’s current market value is less than half of Microsoft’s offer.

Earnings fell 4%[7] in the most recent quarter. Throw in rounds of layoffs, social media buyouts and screwups[8], dwindling online display ads and an uncertain future with content[9], and it’s not hard to see that “fixer-upper” is an understatement.

Rewind back a few CEOs (there’s been so many recently it’s easy to lose track) and recall that Carol Bartz also got the honor of taking the top spot at this troublesome tech giant. She got the axe after two years[10] when the tough attitude and can-do spirit that got her the job didn’t seem to bring Yahoo any progress.

Can’t Mayer see that Yahoo is nothing but trouble?

Take a look at InvestorPlace[11]’s [12]Dow Leaderboard[13], and you’ll see another striking example: Meg Whitman, almost all the way at the bottom of the list.

Whitman took the reins at Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ[14]) a little under a year ago, trying to revive a company whose once-booming PC business has been eaten away by smartphones and tablets.

How’s that gone? Since Whitman became CEO, the stock is down 20%. In just the past few months, the shares dipped to their lowest since 2005, HP posted a Q2 profit that slipped 31%[15], revised its forecast and laid off workers.

And Meg Whitman also came after a previous female — Carly Fiorina — was ousted after her stint as CEO was unsuccessful.

Considering the slim pickings of female CEOs[16] to begin with, it raises the question of why they’re getting picked to lead such sad, struggling businesses — and why they’re accepting.

Maybe the age-old adages are right. Like the jerk that girl after girl keeps dating, these women must also think that they can be the ones to inspire some change.

Hate to break it to you, ladies, but a turnaround is tough. I’m not sure what it would take to fix the likes of Yahoo and HP, but I think it’s time for the few women who are making it to the top to start getting together with the nice guys of the business world. It can happen — just take a look at Ginny Rometty at IBM (NYSE:IBM[17]).

If they don’t, who knows what’s next … maybe a female CEO gets to try turning things around[18] at Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM[19])? Yeah, sounds like a tempting offer.

What happened to the days when girls just wanted to have fun?

As of this writing, Alyssa Oursler did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

Endnotes:
  1. YHOO: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=YHOO
  2. GOOG: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=GOOG
  3. FB: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=FB
  4. Marissa Mayer will be Yahoo’s latest CEO: http://investorplace.com/2012/07/memo-to-ms-mayer-turnarounds-are-hard-to-do-goog-yhoo-ibm-f-gm-aapl/
  5. there’s a baby on board: http://investorplace.com/2012/07/kudos-to-yahoo-for-hiring-a-pregnant-ceo/
  6. MSFT: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=MSFT
  7. Earnings fell 4%: http://investorplace.com/2012/07/yahoo-earnings-slip-as-new-ceo-takes-reins/
  8. social media buyouts and screwups: http://investorplace.com/2012/05/social-media-screwups-illustrate-why-yahoo-is-doomed/
  9. uncertain future with content: http://investorplace.com/2012/07/the-crux-of-marissa-mayers-problem-at-yahoo/
  10. got the axe after two years: http://investorplace.com/2011/09/carol-bartz-yahoo-buyout-nasdaq-yhoo/
  11. InvestorPlace: http://investorplace.com/dow-leaderboard/
  12. ’s : http://investorplace.com/dow-leaderboard/
  13. Dow Leaderboard: http://investorplace.com/dow-leaderboard/
  14. HPQ: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=HPQ
  15. Q2 profit that slipped 31%: http://investorplace.com/2012/05/hewlett-packard-hpq-latest-turnaround-doomed-to-fail/
  16. the slim pickings of female CEOs: http://investorplace.com/2012/07/where-are-the-women-board-members/
  17. IBM: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=IBM
  18. turning things around: http://investorplace.com/2012/06/research-in-motion-completely-implodes/
  19. RIMM: http://studio-5.financialcontent.com/investplace/quote?Symbol=RIMM

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