Yahoo Poaches Google’s Marissa Mayer As CEO In Surprise Hire

July 18, 2012 0

Sunnyvale, California — In a surprising move by struggling Sunnyvale, Calif.-based web pioneer Yahoo Inc. that shook Silicon Vally tech titans on Monday as it announced what some may call a coup, wooing one of Google’s most talented execs Marissa Mayer as new chief executive from Tuesday, a surprise pick for its third CEO in a year.

The move came as a surprise after many reports stated that Mayer’s hiring, which edged out front-runner and interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, signaled the Internet company is likely to renew its focus on Web technology and products rather than beefing up online content.

Marissa Mayer was employee No. 20 at Google and rose to the top — now she has been poached by Yahoo. Photo: Reuters

Ms Mayer, 37, will become the company’s third CEO in the span of a year. In a statement released by Yahoo, Ms Mayer expressed her notions stating: “I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the Internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users,” Mayer said.

The appointment “indicates a renewed focus on product innovation to attract user experience and advertising revenue,” Yahoo! said in a statement.

In fact, many industry experts have made positive remark on the move, “It is a statement on Yahoo’s part to go with a product-centric CEO choice. It is a very big commitment on the board’s part to pursue a product-centric strategy,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen told the Fortune industry conference in Aspen, Colorado.

Tech companies can be turned around, he said, citing as an example Apple Inc., which had tottered on the brink of bankruptcy before Steve Jobs returned to the company he co-founded. “It is a big job that Marissa is stepping into,” Andreessen said.

Another industry expert, Danny Sullivan of the website Search Engine Land called 37-year-old Mayer a promising choice for Yahoo! Chief.

“She is smart, she is ambitious, she knows the Internet space better than almost anyone out there,” he said.

Adding further he said, “If anyone has a shot at doing something good with Yahoo! she is one of the best picks… She took Google as a search engine to such an enormous success that it has. She is very focused on details, very meticulous.”

Yahoo!’s new CEO Marissa Mayer (AFP/Getty Images/File, Jemal Countess)

Mayer is quite a famous figure as one of the industry’s leading consumer Internet executives. By appointing Mayer on board, Yahoo is sending a clear signal: The company is going to push as hard as it can to innovate new products and drive user experience and ad revenue for its properties. Yahoo properties include Yahoo Finance, Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Mobile, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Search.

“I look forward to working with the company’s dedicated employees to deliver innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world,” Ms Mayer said.

As a matter of fact, she becomes one of very few women in Silicon Valley to rise to the top of a major technology firm.

“A lot of people did not believe that Yahoo could snap someone of the caliber of a Marissa Mayer to become the CEO at this stage,” Standard and Poor’s equity analyst Scott Kessler told Reuters news agency.

Mayer joined Google in 1999 as its 20th employee, was the Internet search company’s first female engineer and has led various efforts for many of Google’s most notable products, including the development of its flagship search product and iconic homepage for more than 10 years. Moving on, she most recently was responsible for Google’s Local, Maps, and Location Services, which includes Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View and local search, for both desktop and mobile.

“She is a great product person, very enterprising and a real perfectionist who always wants the best for users,” Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said of Mayer.

“Yahoo! has made a good choice and I am personally very excited to see another woman become CEO of a technology company.”

In recognition, Larry Page, CEO of Google, said in a statement that Mayer “has been a tireless champion of our users. She contributed to the development of our Search, Geo, and Local products. We will miss her talents at Google.”

Apart from handling numerous services, Mayer also managed some of Google’s most successful innovations, launching more than 100 features and products including image, book and product search, tool-bar, iGoogle, Google News and Gmail. Indeed, Mayer created much of the “look and feel” of the Google user experience as users know it today.

“Marissa is a well known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development,” said Yahoo co-founder David Filo. “I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”

Ms. Mayer took the helm at Yahoo on Tuesday, when the company was scheduled to report its quarterly financial results. On Monday, she tweeted that she was “incredibly excited” to be embarking on her new role.

Mayer obtained her B.S. in Symbolic Systems and her M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence for both degrees. She is credited as an inventor on several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.