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Mayer's 800 Million May Not Be Enough

Tickers in this article: GOOG YHOO

SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer gave several impressive numbers during a fireside chat, announcing the company now has 800 million monthly active users, up 20% from when she became CEO of the Sunnyvale, Calif. company. While that number is impressive, there's another number that's not as impressive to shareholders: three years.

Speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt, Mayer said it would take her three years or perhaps longer to really turn the company around and get it going in the right direction, from a revenue perspective. Yahoo!'s revenue for its second-quarter was $1.07 billion, down 1% year over year.

Yahoo! and Mayer has spent over $1 billion in strengthening its team, particularly in mobile, where the company now has 350 million mobile users. Buying Tumblr, as well as several acqui-hires, Mayer is not shy with Yahoo!'s checkbook if she sees something as a fit to help the company. Much of that money came from Yahoo!'s monetization of its stake in Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, which Mayer credited former CEO and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang for making.

Mayer has undoubtedly built up goodwill on Wall Street, turning the perception of the company around, she has not been able to get the core function of Yahoo! turning in the right direction from a revenue perspective. Page views have started to turn around, as Yahoo! surpassed Mayer's former employer, Google in traffic in the month of July for the first time since July 2011. Mayer stressed at the conference that page views ultimately equals revenue, though that's proved elusive so far.

People, products, traffic and revenue were Mayer's key theme during the interview with Michael Arrington. Yahoo! certainly has an increase in people, with 800 million monthly users. It certainly has an increase in products, seemingly unveiling a new product almost weekly, the latest ones being the new Yahoo! toolbar and the new Yahoo! Screen app. Traffic is improving, judging by comScore's latest numbers. Now all she needs is the revenue.

Otherwise, investors will focus less on her superpower (she claimed empathy might be her superpower, but also said she should be making fewer decisions), and more on her inability to grow the most important number of all.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in San Francisco

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