On Monday July 16, it was announced that the search engine company Yahoo has hired Marissa Mayer to be the company’s new CEO. The move shocked industry analysts across the spectrum, as it was widely unexpected. Her hiring is effective immediately, as she starts work on Tuesday July 17. Her compensation package is as of now unknown.
Mayer’s hiring comes as a surprise mostly because of her standing at her previous employer, competitor search engine and tech giant Google. The 37 year old Mayer has been with that company essentially since the ground up. She joined the company as only its 20th employee, and its first female engineer, back in 1999, the year after its inception. She’s been with them ever since, acting in several roles, including engineer, designer, product manager and executive. One of the biggest contributions Mayer has made to the tech behemoth during her tenure is the design of the home page itself. Despite the bells and whistles that many at the company wanted to add, Mayer insisted on the now famous, simple and sleek design associated with the search engine. Her input has been enormously valuable in other areas as well. She has been heavily involved in the development of many of Google’s most popular products, including gmail and Google Books.
Yahoo is hoping to take advantage of her famed ingenuity and assorted talents. In the opinion of many analysts, they desperately need a positive turnaround. Mayer will be the company’s fifth CEO in as many years. She is following in the footsteps of Scott Thompson, Carol Bartz, Jerry Yang and Terry Semel. The most recent of those CEOs, Thompson, stepped down earlier this year amidst the scandal that he possibly lied about his academic credentials and because he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He held his position at Yahoo for only four months. During that time, Thompson laid off over 2,000 employees, roughly 14% of the workforce. While Thompson claimed that would save the company about $375 million in payroll expenses, insiders at Yahoo have claimed that the layoffs have made it very hard for the company to work in an efficient manner. This is not good for a company that has seen its share price fall a staggering 41% over the last five years, and is currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the social networking giant Facebook, even though the two are partnered companies.
Mayer hopes to reverse the tide for the struggling company. Many of the same industry analysts who were surprised by the decision have taken the time to examine her qualifications, and the general consensus seems to be she just might be the right woman for the job. Unlike the other recent CEOs, Mayer has a master’s degree in computer science, and she is a trained engineer. Given her long history at Google, the overwhelming leader in the search engine field, it’s possible she has a better understanding of the industry than her predecessors. She is widely known as driven and ambitious, and she holds a wide array of interests. She sits on the board of not just other Fortune 500 companies such as Wal-Mart, but also nonprofits that specialize in the arts, like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the New York City Ballet. She is also a notorious clotheshorse, and once paid $60,000 at a charity auction to have lunch with legendary designer Oscar de la Renta.
This is not the only good news Mayer has received in the last year. She is also pregnant with her first child with husband Zach Bogue, a venture capitalist out of San Francisco. Mayer has already announced that she will forgo her maternity leave and continue to take Yahoo into the upper echelons of the tech world. That may just be a representation of the drive and focus the Yahoo investors are looking for.