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NYU professor: Marissa Mayer only has a job because she’s pregnant

Marissa Mayer, CEO of YahooMarissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
Marissa Mayer, CEO of YahooIllustration: Fortune

As investors eye Yahoo and speculate as to what it should do about its Alibaba problem, CEO Marissa Mayer has taken some heat. But not like this.

A prominent marketing professor at NYU Stern School of Business, Scott Galloway, went on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday and made some surprising comments about Mayer—comments that many businesspeople would find sexist and offensive.

Galloway, who is a Bloomberg TV “contributing editor” and also founded a digital research firm, suggested that Yahoo would do better if acquired by a larger tech giant like Microsoft. He had harsh words for the 21-year-old tech company, saying, “We should put a bullet in the head of this story called Yahoo… euthanize this thing.” But he had harsher words for Mayer. “If she hadn’t announced she was pregnant with twins, she’d be out of a job within six months,” he said.


The suggestion is that the only reason Yahoo hasn’t fired Mayer yet is because she is pregnant, and that firing her now would be bad optics for the company. “I don’t think any board in America right now in technology that’s as visible as Yahoo wants to be seen as not leaning in,” he said.

Yahoo has continued to make moves this year in its effort to innovate. It acquired fashion startup Polyvore (CEO Jess Lee was previously a Mayer protege at Google). It built and launched its own daily fantasy sports platform, in contrast with competitor ESPN, which partnered with DraftKings. But its attempt to spin off a massive stake in Chinese retail giant Alibaba has hit regulatory snags because of the IRS. The stock price is down some 18% in the last month.

Galloway also called Mayer “the most overpaid CEO in history.” She made about $42 million last year in cash and stock options.