Marissa Mayer would like to make clear that she's not spearheading design at Yahoo. Soon enough someone else will be.
Yahoo is looking to hire a senior VP of design that will report directly to Ms. Mayer, the chief executive herself said on stage at Salesforce's Dreamforce conference in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Yahoo and Ms. Mayer have earned something of a reputation for design since the former Google exec took over the portal in July 2012. On Tuesday she acknowledged the importance of design but seemed to want put that reputation -- and her role in it -- in check.
"It's important to not lead with design but to have design be part of the overall product process," she said.
However she reversed course on Tuesday saying that she's not a designer. During her conversation with Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Ms. Mayer even made a point to say that she didn't design the lauded Yahoo Weather mobile app, "the team did."
Yahoo has launched or relaunched roughly 20 products over the last 16 months -- including refreshes of the Yahoo home page, Yahoo Mail and Flickr -- and much attention has been paid to the aesthetic of those products. The Yahoo Weather app may be the most notable example for pulling in Flickr photos to serve as backdrops for weather forecasts. Yahoo's acquisition of Tumblr, a blogging playground for creative types, seemed to heighten design's pedestal at the portal. But Ms. Mayer said she has a higher priority.
"We don't think of ourselves as design-first. We think of ourselves as mobile-first," she said.
To that end, Ms. Mayer recited the size of Yahoo's mobile audience -- almost 400 million monthly unique visitors from mobile devices, she said -- and the growth of Yahoo's mobile team. A few days after she joined Yahoo, Ms. Mayer was told that the company had about 30 core mobile employees with roughly another 30 sprinkled within other product teams. Now Yahoo counts almost 400 members of its core mobile team, she said.
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