Yahoo! Appoints New CEO: Marissa Mayer

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Over the span of the last year Yahoo has had 4 different CEO’s at the helm and now we can add a 5th, Marissa Mayer, to this list. Mayer started her post on Tuesday (17th July) and tweeted about her excitement for her new role. She starts in a challenging position as Yahoo has been described as a sinking ship over past few years, with rivals Google and Facebook dominating the search and social markets respectively. So who is Marissa Mayer and what challenges can she look forward to in the future as CEO and President of this online giant?

Mayer, who qualified as a computer programmer from Stanford University, was Google’s first female employee (20th overall) in 1999. In her time at Google, Mayer held many positions including as an engineer, designer, product manager and vice president of some of Google’s biggest products, including Google Local, Maps, and Images. She specialises in artificial intelligence which has become an integral part of Google’s latest projects e.g. Google’s autonomous car program. Mayer also holds several patents in AI and interface design that she acquired in her time at Google.

Mayer was responsible for the clean look of Google’s homepage which she has compared to “a Swiss Army knife with all of its tools folded away”. It was her expertise in user-friendly centred design as well as her leadership skills that appealed to the board of Yahoo. Despite her rise to success, her last few years saw her drop out of the power circle of Google as Larry Page (Co-founder and current CEO) repositioned her from head of search to heading up Google’s location-based products. It has been reported that Google will not be filling the position she vacated.

Mayer will certainly have her hands full as Yahoo has been struggling to find inspiration and innovation in search, email, social and advertising for the last ten years or so. Technology experts have struggled to define exactly what Yahoo is and Yahoo’s previous CEO’s have mostly failed because of this lack of identity. Many of Yahoo’s innovative and successful products, like Flickr (a once popular photo-sharing site), have been overtaken by Google’s and Facebook’s offerings. Yahoo still rakes in good profits from its advertising offering however, which is mainly due to its vast number and array of sites, but Google still dominate this market.

Mayer will also take up another important role in October as she announced on Tuesday that she will be having a baby with her husband, Zachary Bogue who is a venture capitalist and real-estate investor. Mayer has announced that she will work through her maternity leave which should make the Yahoo board breathe easier. So it would seem that Yahoo is in a stronger position with its appointment of Mayer, who has received the backing of many Silicon Valley CEO’s and leaders. Her reputation should help her recruit new talent into the company. It’s ironic to think that she was once part of the amazing team that lead to Yahoo’s downfall.

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