Prominent Googler Marissa Mayer has been named CEO of Yahoo!, DealBook reports.
Mayer, who was hired as Google's first female engineer in 1999, rose through the ranks to become a member of the Google operating committee and one of the most visible women in tech. Hired straight out of Stanford, Mayer was the original gatekeeper of the Google homepage, where she oversaw the site's famously clean design. She was eventually made Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services, a position that put her in charge of thousands of employees and projects like Google Maps and Google Earth.
Now, apparently having gone as high as she cared to at Google, Mayer has decamped for an older, more imperiled search giant.
As one of the reigning fashionistas of tech — Vogue wrote of her Oscar de la Renta cashmere cardigan and Omega De Ville watch — Mayer has long been a figure of contrast in a world populated by geeks in hoodies and Havaianas. Her ascendance in the cutthroat, male-dominated world of Silicon Valley has signaled to a generation of tech-savvy girls that having a second X chromosome isn't a programming bug.
"One of the things I care a lot about is helping to remove that stigma, to show girls that you can be feminine, you can like the things that girls like, but you can also be really good at technology," she told the Daily Beast in 2010.
Mayer's selection as Yahoo's CEO set the tech and media worlds ablaze this afternoon, giving a badly needed burst of good publicity to a company that has been dogged by scandals and sluggish stock performance. But while Yahoo's image might benefit from a flashy CEO choice, the company's business model still faces huge challenges.
As Yahoo's CEO, Mayer will be tasked with restoring the sex appeal to a media company that has often seemed like an internet relic, and that saw quarter after quarter of flagging revenues. Mayer's plan to restore Yahoo! to its former profitability, according to DealBook, includes "leveraging the Internet company’s strong franchises including email, finance and sports."
As part of her task, she will have to corral Yahoo's board members, who have long been known for infighting and unflattering leaks to the media. She will also have to stay in the good graces of Daniel Loeb, a hedge fund investor and major Yahoo! shareholder whose rabble-rousing led to the resignation of the company's previous CEO, Scott Thompson, in a résumé-padding scandal. And to top it all off, she may have to contend with internal disappointment from some corners that Ross Levinsohn, Yahoo's interim CEO and a beloved company insider, was passed over for the permanent spot.
But we're guessing that if Mayer, who has for years climbed the ladder of Silicon Valley with sharp elbows while maintaining a glamorous public profile, can pull off that balancing act, she can deal with a few bruised egos.