Former Google pioneering exec now Yahoo! CEO – and pregnant!

A Stanford graduate and one of the pioneering software engineers at Google, new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer had much to do with the evolution of Google’s user interface and, as such, has had a direct hand in shaping the way users experience Google.

Mayer joined Google in 1999 as employee number 20 and was the company’s first female engineer. During her 13 years with the company, she was an engineer, designer, product manager, and executive. Mayer held key roles in Google Search, Google Images, Google Books, Google Product Search, Google Toolbar, iGoogle, Google News and Gmail. She also oversaw the layout of Google’s famous, unadorned search homepage. In her final years with Google, she was Vice President of Local, Maps, and Location Services and, before that, Vice President of Search Products and User Experience.

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What Google had at the time — and these were the really early days — was a search engine: a really good one that promised unbiased algorithmically-rated search results to which, at some point, Yahoo! itself outsourced its service.

Yahoo! was at the time the Goliath in the Internet landscape. But even as Google focused on developing the best search engine and maintained its now iconic minimalist logo-and-text-box-only home page, Yahoo! abandoned search as its core expertise and focused on becoming a Web “portal”. Google, of course, also went on to field innovation after innovation in the field of Web advertising — something also dominated by Yahoo! at the time. Today, Google remains on top of both fields — search and Web advertising.

Yahoo! on the other hand is lost. Although the term “Web portal” is no longer the glam buzzword it used to be, Yahoo! still comes across as one. It seems to be suffering product bloat even as its ad revenues go flat. Mayer also follows former CEO Scott Thompson who after just four months on the job resigned in disgrace after it was alleged that he had falsified his academic credentials. Indeed, Mayer inherits a mess, though it is still not clear what her direction will be once she gets to work…

Her background in managing Google’s products and user experience suggest that a Mayer-led Yahoo might on refocus on a steamlined ecosystem of core sites and applications.

That’s what some customers are hoping. Fans of Flickr, the popular but neglected photo site Yahoo bought seven years ago, launched a #DearMarissaMayer social media campaign on Tuesday begging her to revitalize the site.

For now Mayer who is pregnant faces some obvious personal challenges. But then…

Mayer first disclosed to the Yahoo board that she is pregnant in late June, in a meeting with Michael Wolf, a member of the board’s four-person CEO search committee. A meeting with the search committee followed, and then Mayer met with the full board last Wednesday. None of the Yahoo directors, she says, revealed any concern about hiring a pregnant chief executive. “They showed their evolved thinking,” says Mayer, who got the phone call last Thursday that she was the board’s choice to be CEO.

[NB: Parts of this article were lifted from the article “Marissa Mayer” in a manner compliant to the terms stipulated in the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License that governs usage of content made available in this site.]

4 Replies to “Former Google pioneering exec now Yahoo! CEO – and pregnant!”

  1. One possible concern, is that she was in charge of search services at Google. Though it is where Google started, it is not a revenue generating part of Google. She, in fact, has no experience generating revenue.

    Yahoo! was always a web portal. I remember way back when, how it always got on my nerves when people would erroneously refer to Yahoo! as a “search engine.” it in fact was a directory service. if you looked in the actual search engine at (that would be the search box in the upper left corner) it is labeled “powered by AltaVista.” That’s right, the search engine at Yahoo! was AltaVista. Yet, tech journalists kept calling Yahoo! a search engine.

    Tech journalists are idiots!!!

    So when a lot of companies decided to copy Yahoo! and develop their own directory services a buzz word was created, “Portal.” I was happy. I thought, “finally people can know the difference between a search engine and what Yahoo! does.” Unfortunately, tech journalists are idiots! what were their reacion? “Oh, it’s just a search engine on steroids.”


    One of the companies that got in the portal business was AltaVista. So Yahoo! ditched them. They began using another company that only did search, Inktomi.

    That was about 1998. I hadn’t visited visited Yahhoo! until the introduction of the iPhone. That was the only Stevenote I attended. Jerry Yang was there, and someone from Google. After the keynote, in one of the panels i attended, it was mentioned that Yahoo! does search too. That got me thinking, “Do they?”

    So I visited Yahoo! for the first time in a long time. Sure enough the search box was not labeled, “powered by whoever.” I researched on Wikipedia, Sure enough, Yahoo! bought Inktomi years ago while I wasn’t looking.

    So yeah, now Yahoo! is a search engine, but it wasn’t for a long time.

      1. I looked it up on Wikipedia.

        AltaVista was acquired by another company, then that company was acquired by Yahoo!

        AltaVista is now essentially shut down.

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