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Yahoo's Mayer questioned by 'dirty old man'

Yahoo's Mayer questioned by 'dirty old man'

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer proved cool under fire when she fielded a question from a self-confessed 'dirty old man' during Yahoo's latest shareholders' meeting. (Image courtesy Magnus Höij.)

Yahoo's latest shareholders' meeting took a bizarre turn last night when incumbent president and chief executive Marissa Mayer was questioned by a self-confessed 'dirty old man.'

During a question and answer session at Mayer's first shareholders' meeting as chief executive, an unidentified shareholder stood to ask a question - and started with a candid confession that he should perhaps have kept unsaid. 'I have 2000 Yahoo shares, I'm Greek, and I'm a dirty old man' the individual told Mayer and the thousands of shareholders, executives, press and analysts watching the live-streamed event, 'and you look attractive, Marissa.'

The outburst was followed with criticism surrounding Mayer's decision to end a long-term work-from-home programme open to select Yahoo employees, ending with the question 'are you gonna keep it that way, [because] I'm sure they're not happy that they're back here?'

To her credit, Mayer responded calmly to the question and ignored the man's initial outburst, explaining that 'at this time it's right for Yahoo to have people in the office, because that's where things happen.' To back up her claim Mayer offered the modification of the Yahoo weather application to pull relevant images from the company's Flickr photo-sharing service, which came about as the result of an in-office discussion which would have been all-but impossible had the staff in question been working from home.

The remainder of the meeting proceeded well, nary another display of misogyny in sight, with one or two other slightly odd questions from the assembled shareholders including a query as to which American Football team Mayer would support in a given match and a request that she put her support behind human rights in China and for employees of multinational retailer Walmart - Mayer being on the board of directors for the company in addition to running Yahoo.

Previously of Google, having joined the company in 1999 as its first female engineer, Mayer's move to Yahoo came as a surprise in 2012 - not least because she immediately sat in the role of president and chief executive. While some of the decisions she has made at the company since have come in for criticism - not least of which was the aforementioned cancellation of the work from home policy - many have been welcomed, including an extension to the maternity leave policy.

Engagement figures shared during the event revealed a definite trend: in the last year, user activity has increased at the company by ten per cent, while homepage interactions are up by a quarter. Most impressively, photo uploads on Flickr have increased fourfold since the company introduced a one terabyte free storage tier.

Yahoo's stock price on the NASDAQ exchange rose 3.7 per cent to $24.95 per share, still down from the $26.42 it started the month at largely thanks to a sudden dip when the company announced completion of its $1.1 billion acquisition of blogging site Tumblr.

The full video of the meeting is available for streaming on the company's investor site.

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