Yahoo! poaches Google's Marissa Mayer as new CEO

Silicon Valley is rubbing its eyes in disbelief this morning. Mayer, a Google veteran, has jumped ship to join an apparently sinking one...

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
In a shock move, Marissa Mayer, a top exec at Google with 13 years of loyal service under her belt, called in to Google HQ yesterday afternoon and resigned. Today, she starts work as Yahoo!’s new CEO.

She’s Yahoo!’s third CEO in the space of a year. In September 2011, chief executive Carol Bartz was fired after two and a half years in the post. Back in May, chief executive Scott Thompson stepped down following 'irregularities' on his CV. Yahoo!’s fortunes have been similarly disastrous: its stock is now worth half its peak value.

Yahoo! used to be the darling of the internet, raking in billions from internet advertising off the back of its email and search products. But competition from Google and Facebook has hit the company hard. Revenues are still impressive – it turned over $4.98bn in 2011 – but analysts have warned that its future hangs in the balance.

Mayer obviously disagrees. And, as the woman credited with the runaway success of Gmail and Google News, it’s possible she sees potential that we don’t. In a statement released today, she made her ambitions for Yahoo! clear: ‘I look forward to working with the company's dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalised experiences to users and advertisers all around the world,’ she said. Should Zuckerberg and Schmidt be quaking in their boots?

After all, Mayer’s very appointment has already done wonders for the firm’s rep: shares in Yahoo! have climbed to $15.70 after the news broke. As Standard and Poor's equity analyst Scott Kessler told Reuters news agency: ‘A lot of people did not believe that Yahoo could get someone of the calibre of a Marissa Mayer to become the CEO at this stage.’ And yet it did. Is something rotten in the state of Google?

Mayer has now joined the ranks of just a handful of women to ascend the dizzy heights of CEO at a Silicon Valley firm. And while pregnant too.  ‘They showed their evolved thinking,’ she said of Yahoo!’s willingness to take her on mid-term. Not that this hot-shot is going to let a small thing like having a baby interrupt her plans for world wide web domination: ‘I'll work throughout it,’ she says.

Yahoo! reports its results tomorrow and Mayer will no doubt take the opportunity to outline a few of her plans for the firm. MT will be all ears.

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