Five reasons why Marissa Mayer's move to Yahoo is great

Five reasons why Marissa Mayer's move to Yahoo is great

Summary: Marissa Mayer, one of Google's most prominent executives, is now Yahoo's CEO and this will be a great move for both her and Yahoo.

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You could have knocked me over with a feather. Marissa Mayer, Google's employee #20, one of Google's public faces, and VP in charge of Google's Maps, among other projects,, is now Yahoo's CEO. Good for her and good for Yahoo!

I think this will be a good move for both her and the long beleaguered Yahoo.

First, for Yahoo:

1) Innovative Leadership: Mayer wasn't just Google's first woman engineer and developer. She's the person who's largely responsible for Google's best known and well-regarded looks: such as the unadorned Google search page. Mayer isn't just another suit, she's an innovative ideas person and Yahoo is a company that has been sadly lacking in ideas for the last few years.

2) Respectable Leadership: When the last CEO, Scott Thompson, resigned after it was revealed that he had lied on his resume, Yahoo had become a joke. One CEO after another had come, cut jobs, made bad deals, and then been kicked out the door. Mayer is well-known and respected in the industry. She's not the  "improve the bottom line for the next quarter by firing staffers" kind of executive that Yahoo has had in recent years.

3)  Re-creation: Yahoo has been declining for years. It needs a sharp leader who can build excitement around its moribund brand. But, it needs more than just a fresh coat of paint. It needs to be rebuilt from the inside out to create an exciting brand again and I think Mayer can do that.

This can't be done by a back to the future approach with search or its failed partnership with Microsoft's Bing. Yahoo needs to do something new and like most top Google staffers Mayer can think outside the box.

As for Mayer:

4) A company of her own: Mayer was widely respected both inside and outside of Google, but she had no way to break through Google's glass ceiling. She couldn't help to be aware of that when, after leading search she became vice president of the company’s local efforts in late 2010, only to be superseded by Jeff Huberas, senior vice president of local and commerce. It was tine to move on.

5) The top spot: This move not only makes Mayer one of the few top women CEOs, along with HP's Meg Whitman, and IBM's Virginia Rometty, she's an even rarer kind of leader at a top technology company: She's a geek. With a  B.S. in Symbolic Systems and an M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence for both degrees, she's a techie's techie.

Maybe it's crazy of me, but I still think a tech CEO who can lead and code is a lot better than one with an MBA. Now, she'll get a chance to show what she can do with the top job.

Some people think this move is like what Microsoft seems to have done to Nokia when Stephen Elop, a former Microsoft executive became CEO of Nokia—and proceeded to tie its future to Microsoft while running it into the ground. Or, she'll just make Yahoo an arm of Google. You might call such a creation: Yahoogle

I don't see either happening. I think Mayer wants the top job to see if she can turn a former Internet giant around.

It won't be easy. Besides its long search decline, Yahoo recently made major security blunders and started a foolish patent lawsuit against Facebook Make no mistake about it, Yahoo is a company in a world of hurt.

 All that said, I wouldn't bet against Mayer. Yahoo may yet rise phoneix-like from the ashes.

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Topics: Tech Industry, Google, IT Employment

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16 comments
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  • First of all is waaaay too early to tell if it's great or not. It has the

    potential to be great, and I like her tech creds too, but it also has the potential to go the other way. You postulate this she was surpassed by huberas because of a gender biased glass ceiling with absolutely nothing to back that up. Nor does she have any turn around experience.

    Second your implication that Nokias troubles are due to Elop and/or MS/WP are pretty perposterous. Nokia was on the verge of stepping off a market share cliff well before Elop arrived and the meego offerinig was not going to reverse that. That he recognized it early enough to start the course adjustment prior to it becoming clear to others is what has them in better shape to recover now than they would have otherwise been. They could have spent the last two years with the same or worse results and be sitting here today with nothing but a broken meego mess to scoop up (akin to RIMs current situation) instead of being well on the way to WP8 ecosystem goodness. But at least you made another lame fud attempt at disparaging MS in a blog on a subject that has nothing to do with MS, Nokia, Window Phone, or anything else like that. So youre still on track for the most ridiculously biased blogger award.
    Johnny Vegas
    • Yet

      based on the name you used to submit a comment to this article. Well, guess what from your previous comments you are biased from the start.

      You created this bias and no one else.

      Kudos to Marissa Mayer.
      RickLively
    • Another EPIC FAIL by Johnny Vegas

      Time to retire the handle Johnny! What's the going rate for professional anti-Apple/anti-Google blogging these days? MS is going ... going ...
      Gr8Music
  • Depends most on the qualities of the individual: vision and leadership

    From the article:
    "I still think a tech CEO who can lead and code is a lot better than one with an MBA

    Ask IBM. Lou Gerstner got his MBA at Harvard. More here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Gerstner

    This said, I wish Marissa Meyer the best of luck. I, for one, would love to see Yahoo! flying high again.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Good luck to her.

    I wonder who'll be the captain of this sinking ship next year, when Meyer leaves or is taken out.
    kraterz
  • She was passed over at Google for a reason

    And we don't know what reason that is yet. Yahoo hasn't built a reputation (yet) on picking expert CEO's. Google, on the other hand, has a reputation for hand-picking only the finest talent.

    I wish Marissa well at Yahoo, but I'm not ready to say that this is a 'great' move for Yahoo. Undoubtedly it is a great move for Marissa.

    Imma pull a wait-and-see on this one.
    malcolm@...
  • I'll bet against Mayer.

    No doubt she's a smart woman, but there's just too much stacked against her. First, Yahoo! is done. Their problems are just too chronic and systemic. 5 CEOs in a year?! Seriously, does anyone really think that Yahoo! has anything maintaining it other than sheer inertia?

    Second, Ms. Mayer is 6 months pregnant. Trying to fix Yahoo!, the Sick Man of Technology, is not going to be a 9-5 job. It will take the full focus and energy of the CEO, and there's just no way someone, male or female, expecting their first child in three months is going to be able to devote their full focus and energy to anything, including their job. People may call that sexist, but having been around lots of expecting and new parents I've seen it first hand.

    Third, even if you totally discount the fact that she's gestating, Ms. Mayer is a completely unproven Executive. She's never held a C-level position, she's never led a Business Unit, and at her last gig she was marginalized by some of the biggest brains in the industry. The idea that she's a "techie's techie" makes for a romantic image, but let's face it, the admiration of the coders is not going save Yahoo!

    So, yeah-I'm betting against Ms. Mayer the odds are just too long for her. But don't cry for Marissa, she's already a very wealthy woman, and I'm sure her compensation package with Yahoo! is very large and includes a platinum parachute. If you want to cry for someone, cry for the ever-optimistic Yahoo! employees who hearing this news change their mind about leaving the company and decide to stick it out in the hopes that the hype is accurate. They're the ones who are going to lose in the end.
    matthew_maurice
    • Wrong time, wrong leader

      Agreed, she's the wrong leader for Yahoo at this point in their life and her's too
      Kia Ora IV
  • I agree with matthew_maurice and the previous anonymous post to his

    Yahoo is not a Search or Technology company. They are a portal and media company and fundamentally different to the culture of Google.

    I don't believe she stands a chance, but for sure she shouldn't do badly out of it.
    davidnrothwell
  • Marissa Mayer

    it will not be great if she mess it up like google and gmail and set yhoo to spy on the people that use it then if she does fire her that day i do not like gmail or google at all or facebook or utube or microsoft but you are forced when your internet company say you have to go to gmail crap that is wrong
    ttx19
  • Red Flags -

    "She's a geek. With a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and an M.S. in Computer Science"

    Techies rarely make good business people. Fastest way to bankruptcy is to let a techie run the business.

    She may be different, but without a good understanding of how to turn a bad business to a good business, red flags are all over the place.

    As always, only time will tell, I'll withhold my judgement at this point, but the red flags are everywhere.

    Since Yahoo has such a steller history in choosing CEO's, one must wonder. . . . . .
    Cynical99
    • like Gates?

      supreme techie, and he didn't do too bad (and no, I'm not a Microsoft fanboy)
      keithc
  • Yahoo needs a visionary

    What Yahoo needs most right now is a visionary leader who can craft a strategic direction for the company. Between a bean-counter and a techie, I'd think that a techie might be better equipped to create such a vision for Yahoo.

    Then again, simply because of the sheer mess that Yahoo is in, it's hard to say if Mayer can figure it all out quickly enough. Heck, Jerry Yang couldn't figure it out... and he built the company.

    Time is of the essence, and Yahoo shareholders will be looking for quick wins. So Mayer's biggest pressure will come in the form of shareholders waiting for her big strategic direction speech that will lock her moves in for the next few years. Let's hope it's not in the form of a "burning platform" memo...
    Art_Ilano
  • New Yahoo CEO

    Marissa Mayer grew up in Wausau WI. She has good Midwest values. She will be okay and do well.
    Jymmn
  • Steve still needs a proof reader

    "It was tine to move on."

    I think he meant "time"
    Cynical99
  • Too tall a challenge

    The odds are stacked high against Mayer, I'll be pleasantly surprised if she can pull a rabbit out of this burning hat.
    It's interesting how many illiterates are throwing their five-cent's worth around here. Guys n gals, it's MAYER, not Meyer.
    And Kia Ora IV " her's " ... hers does not take a possessive apostrophe. May I recommend 'Eats Shoots and Leaves' by Lynn Truss to sort out your punctuation woes, it's a good read and fun: http://books.google.co.za/books/about/Eats_Shoots_and_Leaves.html?id=VHO1kSJK1JcC&redir_esc=y
    Ok, SJVN has a few slips in the piece too, which I would expect tighter editing to take care of... but if you're going to criticize, Cynical99, it's STELLAR not steller. Mind the glass house.
    HallZen