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Marissa Mayer Struggles to Give Yahoo! an Identity Beyond Alibaba

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- No one doubts Marissa Mayer is good at her job. Prior to her being installed as Yahoo!'s CEO, that position was a turnstile of failed promises. But now she is under increasing pressure to come up with a strategy for the company as Alibaba readies its initial public offering.

Mayer's arrival at Yahoo! spurred an immediate recovery. Yahoo! is no longer a laughingstock. As for the stock itself, currently trading around $35.50, you'll be hard pressed to find a stronger turnaround story, even with the shares down 12% for the year to date.

Still, the company is light years ahead of where it was just 12 months ago, up 33%. Since Mayer's arrival, shares have soared 155%.

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But they won't go much farther without some catalysts. The honeymoon's over. We're approaching Mayer's two-year anniversary. It's time to change the narrative of "Yahoo! will be okay because it owns part of Alibaba."

Sure, by virtue of its 24% stake, Yahoo!'s cash situation will improve once Alibaba files its IPO. But absent a clear and comprehensive strategy, Alibaba alone is not going to drive Yahoo!'s stock.

Mayer has made a lot of moves, including the acquisition of Tumblr. There has also been speculation she is interested in Yelp . There have been talks about online video and possibly movie and music streaming.

These are markets currently dominated by Google , Netflix and Pandora . I'm going to guess you've heard of them.

To her credit, Mayer understands she cannot just sit idle and expect the company to grow. From where I sit, Yahoo!'s ambitions appear too scattered. Not wanting other groundbreaking end-markets like Facebook , YouTube and Twitter to escape her grasp, she's operating with fear.

These are a few of the businesses Yahoo! could have easily dominated had it had someone of Mayer’s caliber and intuitiveness a decade ago. But times are different. Today, her job is to define what Yahoo! should be.