Marissa Mayer's shock move to Yahoo welcomed by analysts

Jul 17, 2012

Mayer quits Google on Monday and starts at Yahoo on Tuesday. And she's pregnant

THE internet corporation Yahoo has stunned Silicon Valley by poaching one of Google's highest flyers, 37-year-old Marissa Mayer, to be its new chief executive. And a seven-months pregnant CEO, to boot.

Mayer had worked at Google ever since she left Stanford University and is credited with the success of Gmail and Google News. Her sudden move – she announced her departure from Google yesterday and starts at Yahoo today – has taken staff and observers by surprise.

Many are shocked at her willingness to join a company that has been struggling to keep pace with Google and Bing, where advertising revenue is falling and which has suffered a succession of blunders.

Others were surprised when she told Fortune yesterday that she was pregnant.  Apparently when she told Yahoo directors that she and her husband, lawyer Zachary Bogue, were expecting their first child on 7 October, no one raised any concerns. "They showed their evolved thinking," Mayer said - though she promised to work from home during a short maternity leave.

As the San Jose Mercury reports, Mayer will be the fifth CEO of Yahoo in the past calendar year. Carol Bartz was fired last September to be replaced by interim CEO Tim Morse. He in turn was replaced this January by Scott Thompson of PayPal, but he had to step down in May after admitting lying on his CV about a computer-science degree.

Since Thompson's departure, Ross Levinsohn has been interim CEO. No mention of his future was made in yesterday's announcement of Mayer's appointment.

The Mayer coup has been generally well received overnight.

She is "a deep Google insider who knows where that firm is vulnerable and has likely been frustrated in being able to make needed changes in that firm," says technology analyst Rob Enderle. "As a result, she comes into Yahoo! with a massive and impressive pedigree... and she'll go a long way towards creating a belief that Yahoo! can be turned around."

Hunch co-founder Chris Dixon tweeted that it was "a big win" for Yahoo. "Marissa Mayer is one of a few people who has enough gravitas to ignore public markets for a while and do what's long-term best for Yahoo!"

Eric Jackson, a fund manager at Ironfire Capital, said there were very few "genuine tech rockstars" in Silicon Valley who you can go out and hire as CEO -  but "she is one of them". He said Meyer's priority will be to attract talent to Yahoo!

Charles Arthur, The Guardian technology editor, tweeted last night: "Just this evening as I was heading home I was wondering about Yahoo sliding into irrelevance. Now: different."

Shares in Yahoo rose by 2.3 per cent in after-hours trading, according to MarketWatch.

However, as The Daily Telegraph warns, "the scale of the hurdles" Mayer faces at Yahoo will become clearer when the company's second quarter results are reported after stock markets close tonight.

Sign up for our daily newsletter