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Should Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer get a pass for sleeping on the job

Rockstar CEO Marissa Mayer really does love her sleep. The Chief Yahoo is under fire for apparently showing up 90 minutes late for a dinner with top ad executives at Cannes Lions advertising festival. According to a tipster at the event, Mayer told attendees, “I’m sorry, I fell asleep.”

The Wall Street Journal explains:

Ms. Mayer was nearly two hours late, and several dinner attendees including IPG Chief Executive Michael Roth ended up leaving before she arrived, people familiar with the matter said.

Ms. Mayer told some attendees that she had fallen asleep, some of the people familiar with the matter said.

Missing certain events due to oversleep (like an exam, a birthday party or Friday morning staff meeting) is excusable and often times funny in hindsight, but if you are the CEO of a struggling, listed web company with a salary of $117 million over 5 years and $36.6 million for first six months of employment, I would imagine that a dinner with the very people who decide your ad revenue should warrant a couple of alarms and wake up calls to make sure you’re their on time.

All is not lost, as Mayer has since apologised for her extended nappy pooh as Business Insider reports:

Yahoo had scheduled a very intimate dinner with the giant ad agency IPG. It included every top exec at IPG and at Yahoo. Mayer insisted the dinner be at 8:30 sharp. Everyone rearranged busy schedules including IPG CEO Michael Roth. Mayer ends up standing the group up and shows 90 minutes late. Roth was leaving as she walked in. Her excuse…”I’m sorry, i fell asleep,” to which Roth continued walking.

As we mentioned in our previous report citing this tipster, Yahoo has not confirmed the details from this particular story, and the major ad agencies have yet to respond as well, so again, treat this single source with a grain of salt. However, The Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica ran a similar story that seems to corroborate our source.

“I think the dinner is unfortunate how much attention it’s gotten,” Mayer told Bloomberg. “I was late. I apologized to IPG at the time and in no way meant for it to be a slight to them.”

Earlier that same day, Mayer was criticized for giving a canned and inauthentic speech during her presentation in front of ad executives. But besides the incident of her sleeping, Mayer maintains that Cannes was a “very productive set of days,” in which she said the company made progress with its various web products.

Mayer did not say, however, if she would return to represent Yahoo at Cannes next year.

“We’ll make sure Yahoo is well represented,” she said.

And of course let’s not forget gal pal Alexia Tsotsis from Techcrunch who so conveniently pulls out the gender card so as to give Marissa a by on the whole incident.

As someone who has also fallen asleep before a dinner, this seems like a reasonable explanation.

Yahoo of course would not comment, but here is our two cents: CEOs are sometimes late. Sometimes it’s because people won’t stop asking them for things, sometimes it’s because they’ve done meetings for five hours straight, sometimes it’s because they’re in a time zone that’s nine hours forward from the one they’re usually in. And sometimes it’s because they’re freaked out after an unpredictably difficult interview.

It is weird that this is a Wall Street Journal story. It reminds us of the time Mark Zuckerberg showed up to his IPO road show in a hoodie and set the banking world on its axis. Oh the fun that was!

Would a similar story about Google CEO Larry Page being late to a dinner get the same amount of play? I hope so, but it hasn’t yet, though I’m sure he’s been late at least once. Perhaps if Page wore a hoodie?

Beyond the obvious gender argument, what we’ve got here is a culture clash: Wall Street expects deference, Madison Avenue expects reverence. When what they get from Palo Alto, or Mountain View or SOMA, is human weakness or even straight-forwardness they walk (or leak).

Being 90 minutes late to a dinner that all the other CEO’s and executives managed to make on time is clearly not a big deal. It’s not like these people pay your salary or don’t have any where better to be or deserve common curtesy and respect.

No, none of that matters because this has nothing to do with be responsible, accountable and doing the most mundane and simple task any employee is required to do (let alone the CEO who makes hundreds of millions in compensation), which is be on freaking time!

No, this is all about treating Marissa unfairly because she is a women. I am sure Larry Page, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg habitually stand up important guests and miss big meetings with huge ad agencies and major industry events because they overslept in the south of France.

References:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/23/scannesdal/

http://www.businessinsider.com/marissa-mayer-i-feel-really-badly-2014-6

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marissa_Mayer

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