Marissa Mayer, an ex-Googler, is Yahoo’s 5th CEO in 1 year

Marissa Mayer

There’s nothing terribly important about Yahoo these days. It exists, just as it always has, serving up news and entertainment to 700 million people a month. Yahoo has anointed Marissa Mayer as its new CEO. This may seem inconsequential to many of you. After all, who cares if Company Y hires CEO M? Normally, we’d agree, but peel away the businessy gloss off today’s announcement and you’ll see that Marissa Mayer will be Yahoo’s fifth CEO since Sept. 2011. The company has been disappointing almost everyone for years and has been embroiled in controversy as of late. Yahoo desperately needs Mayer to calm the storm and guide it back in the right direction. The only problem: She may be pre-occupied for a few months. Mayer tweeted last night that she is pregnant with her first child, a boy who is due in October. 

“I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the Internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users,” said Mayer. “I look forward to working with the Company’s dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world.”

Mayer is a veteran of Google. She joined Yahoo’s rival in 1999 to become the company’s 20th employee. Since then, she’s been a major spokesperson and one of the most famous women in tech (or people, for that matter). A couple years back she was in charge of search and user experience for Google, but was later moved to the Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services. However, when Larry Page took over as CEO in April 2011, Mayer was moved out of the CEO inner circle many believe she shared with outgoing CEO Eric Schmidt. She has never expressed any anger or resentment at Google, but it’s clear she was looking for a new challenge. Now, she certainly has one.

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Mayer will replace interim CEO Ross Levinsohn who took over after former PayPal executive Scott Thompson was forced to resign once it was discovered that he forged his resume (allegedly). There were concerns over his health as well, and some investors were not happy how he was guiding the company. He had only been CEO since early 2012. Before him, Tim Morse played the part of interim CEO after Yahoo’s board decided to fire CEO Carol Bartz in Sept. 2011. Bartz was miffed that she had been fired over the phone and sent out a terse goodbye email to employees.

“To all, I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward. Carol,” she wrote.

Bartz took over as CEO in Jan. 2009 after Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang stepped down as CEO for botching a potential $44.6 billion dollar sale to Microsoft in 2008. Yang took the reins after the board forced CEO Terry Semel out because it was not happy with his performance from 2001 to 2007 and thought he was being paid too much. During that period, Yahoo’s stock seemed to have peaked and began to lag behind Google, which was growing faster. Little did they know that since Temel has left, Yahoo’s stock has dropped by more than half its 2005 levels and a fraction of its peak around the dot com bubble of 2000.

Mayer has her work cut out. Yahoo’s board appears both inept and ruthless, firing CEOs that cross them, yet it doesn’t appear that any of them truly have a vision for what Yahoo needs to become for it to prosper again. Let’s hope Mayer can answer that question without ruffling too many feathers. Oh, and she might also needs a plan for this: http://dearmarissamayer.com/