SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Yahoo is hiring longtime Google executive Marissa Mayer to be its next CEO, the fifth in five years as the company struggles to rebound from financial malaise and internal turmoil.
Ms. Mayer, who starts at Yahoo Inc. on Tuesday, was one of Google’s earliest employees and was most recently responsible for its mapping, local and location services. Ms. Mayer, 37, began her career at Google in 1999 after getting her master’s degree at Stanford, the school Google’s co-founders attended.
Ross Levinsohn has been running the company on an interim basis and was thought to be the leading candidate after Hulu CEO Jason Kilar dropped out from consideration. Mr. Levinsohn filled in after Scott Thompson lost his job two months ago in a flap over misinformation on his official biography.
Yahoo’s website remains among the most popular destinations on the Internet with 700 million monthly visitors, but the company has struggled to turn those visits into ad revenue growth. Yahoo’s decline has been exacerbated by the success of Internet search leader Google Inc. and social networking leader Facebook Inc.
Mr. Levinsohn, 48, who once ran Internet services at News Corp., made a positive impression by closing a long-delayed deal to sell part of its stake in Alibaba Group, one of China’s most successful Internet companies. He also negotiated a truce with Facebook, averting a legal fight over patent rights that threatened to poison Yahoo’s partnerships with the social network.
Now, the job of devising a new vision for Yahoo will fall to Ms. Mayer. She will need to quickly communicate how her strategy differs from the plans of four previous CEOs who have unsuccessfully tried to turn the company around during the past five years.
Ms. Mayer has a list of talents and accomplishments that could serve Yahoo well. She gained a reputation at Google as an effective leader with a long string of successes. Known for a folksy demeanor that harks back to her roots in Wausau, Wis., she is a math whiz with a photographic memory.
Ms. Mayer managed the launch of more than 100 features and products including Google News, and Gmail. She is credited with overseeing the creation of much of the clean, uncluttered “look and feel” of many Google products.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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