Ben Ling: Mayer on par with Steve Jobs, Larry Page

Faith Merino · July 23, 2013 · Short URL:

New Khosla addition Ben Ling outlines how Marissa Mayer is making Yahoo great again

Khosla’s newest partner, Ben Ling, has a pretty storied resume. With a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford, Ling has held senior operating roles at Google, YouTube, and Facebook. He was Google’s Senior Director of Search Products and Local Business Products. Most recently, he was the COO of Badoo.   

Up until his move to Khosla Ventures, Ling was also a successful angel investor, with investments in companies like Fab, Palantir, DogVacay, IndieGoGo, PracticeFusion, Pulse, Udemy, and more. 

During his time at Google, he worked side-by-side with Marissa Mayer for several years. So what’s his take on how she’s doing at Yahoo? Bullpen Capital’s Paul Martino asked Ling what kind of advice he’d give Mayer at last week’s Venture Shift.

Ling said that Mayer has been able to do what she alone can accomplish in Silicon Valley, “aside from Larry Page and Steve Jobs.”

He added: “My advice to Marissa would be her advice to me: she’s made Yahoo a viable place to work for top talent. A few years ago, people would laugh you out of the room if you asked them if they would go work for yahoo. Now it’s clear this company is making a swing for it. It’s actively engaging users.”

In last week’s quarterly earnings call, Mayer described how rebuilding Yahoo’s culture was one of her first orders of business. The company began offering the kind of perks that companies like Google and Facebook have become famous for, like free food in the cafeteria and iPhones for everyone. Mayer also instituted a no-telecommuting policy to ensure that all Yahoo employees are together in one spot. The effect: a decrease in attrition and a leap in applications. Mayer said in last week’s earnings call that Yahoo is now receiving 10,000 job applications a month and 10% are from previous Yahoo employees who left and now want to come back.

The second piece of advice Ling said would offer Marissa Mayer is something she’s already doing: “building products that people engage with every day,” said Ling. “People used to use Yahoo every day, but the newer generation hasn’t been using Yahoo since Yahoo hasn’t been launching new products. The fundamentals are: you don’t have a business if you don’t have talent and products.”

Since Mayer has taken the helm at Yahoo, the company has released several new and updated products, including a redesigned homepage, a revamped news page, two Flickr updates, and the addition of Dropbox to Yahoo Mail.

Up next at Yahoo: video.

So it doesn’t sound like Marissa Mayer needs too much advice. 


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