Friday 24 November 2017

Yahoo hires Google's Mayer as CEO to turn around ailing tech company

Alexei Oreskovic and Peter Lauria

Yahoo has picked Google's Marissa Mayer to become its new CEO, turning to an engineer with established Silicon Valley credentials to turn around the struggling former internet powerhouse.

Ms Mayer, who edged out front-runner and acting chief executive Ross Levinsohn, started yesterday as Yahoo's third CEO in a year.

She hopes to stem losses to Google and Facebook -- which her high-profile predecessors failed to do.

Her hiring signalled the internet company is likely to renew its focus on web technology and products rather than beefing up online content. Ms Mayer, who was instrumental in the birth of a major technological innovation -- Google's search engine -- joins the exceedingly thin ranks of female Silicon Valley CEOs.

Shares in Yahoo, worth less than half their value during its dotcom heyday, gained 2pc to $15.97 (€13) in after-hours trading.

Tech companies can be turned around, said venture capitalist Marc Andreesen, citing as an example Apple Inc, which had teetered on the brink of bankruptcy before Steve Jobs returned to the company he co-founded.

"It's a big job that Marissa is stepping into," he said.

Excited

Ms Mayer (37) will assume her role on Tuesday, when the company is scheduled to report its quarterly financial results. On Monday, she tweeted that she was "incredibly excited" to be embarking on her new role.

Ms Mayer, Google's 20th employee and first female engineer, has led various businesses there, including the design of the company's search engine.

Last responsible for Google's local and location services, she joins fellow women tech-industry corporate chieftains Meg Whitman of Hewlett Packard, Virginia Rometty of International Business Machines and Ursula Burns of Xerox Corp.

"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," said Standard & Poor's equity analyst Scott Kessler.

But Ms Mayer's ascension comes as her profile at Google appeared to have diminished in recent months. Shortly after Larry Page took over the helm from Eric Schmidt, she was excluded from a group of top executives reporting directly to the CEO and granted oversight over major strategic decisions.

Her appointment caps a tumultuous year at Yahoo. In May, Scott Thompson resigned as CEO after less than six months on the job as a controversy flared up over his academic credentials.

Mr Thompson replaced the controversial and occasionally foul-mouthed Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to revitalise Yahoo.

"[Marissa's] going to bring a different perspective. It's pretty clear Yahoo needs a new direction and really a new vision," said Paul Buchheit, a Google engineer who helped create Gmail.

Irish Independent

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