As Marissa Mayer contemplated her jump from Number 20 at Google to the latest occupant of Yahoo’s uncertain throne, the core question on my mind (and if she’s as smart as we are told, it will be on hers) is whether what I have been calling Digi Brands, these companies whose tech and biz models are build almost wholly around chips, can survive into middle age.
Aol is the parallel case. Aol, which I still cannot believe did not opt to rebrand as HuffPo when it got Arianna’d.
My point is partly about the fast progress through the traditional company aging experience, accelerated both by the pace of digital change and the single-product nature of most of these concerns. It’s also partly about the aging of a brand, qua brand. Aol is just old. Yahoo (OK, gulp, Yahoo!) is both old and confusing (what exactly is it, again?).
I’m unconvinced. But if Arianna and Marissa can’t do it, perhaps no-one can. The coming months will be fascinating as MM gets to lead Yahoo where she wants.