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Marissa Mayer: Tough Days Ahead

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Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) surprised the whole world Monday, when they announced the appointment of Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. It wasn’t so much the fact that the Internet giant had hired a new CEO, as it was, who they hired for the position. Nearly everyone expected Yahoo to announce that Ross Levinsohn, their Interim CEO, would be taking the lead position at the company. Instead, they revealed that somehow, they had managed to steal away a major competitor’s (Google) talent.

Marissa Mayer was hired as Google’s 20th employee, and had a 13 year tenure with the company. She was a lead contributor in the development of Google’s top applications, such as G-mail and Google Maps. Now, as the new CEO of Yahoo, several sources say she may have an uphill climb to get the company back on track.

For starters, Yahoo reported a loss yesterday, when they released their 2nd Q earnings report for Fiscal Year 2012. Mayer, and Ross Levinsohn were not present for the report. The company’s CFO, Tim Morse, handled the report alone, and told investors that since it was Mayer’s first day, she had not been asked to be there for the meeting. He did, however, assure them that she was “mindful of the importance of the investor community.”

The Huffington Post reports that Mayer’s top three challenges at Yahoo will be making an ally out of Levinsohn, whom she replaced, charting a new course of action to re-align Yahoo towards stronger revenue, and recruiting fresh talent for a company which has been lagging behind in the Internet world.

The first challenge may be her easiest of the three, considering that she and Levinsohn have worked together before. When she was developing Google Search, he had been working for Rupert Murdoch’s company, News Corp. This may play in her favor towards keeping Levinsohn at Yahoo.

This radical move of snatching Google’s top talent to fill a CEO position bodes well for Yahoo on many fronts. Marissa Mayer is definitely qualified to be in a leadership position, considering all the projects she has successfully headed up for Google.

Mayer also has a strong history of the knowledge required to run Yahoo’s technology. She boasts 2 degrees from Stanford in computer related fields, specializing in artificial intelligence, as well as an honorary doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology. She has also held jobs with prestigious development companies such as UBS of Switzerland, and SRI International of California. These skills will definitely give her an edge in the coming days at Yahoo.

Yahoo also stands to gain much public recognition in the public’s eyes, because of its leading role in hiring women for high profile positions. You may recall that Mayer’s position was once held by Carol Bartz. These high profile positions indicate that women can be, and indeed, are strong forces in today’s business world. Marissa Mayer has been listed in Fortune’s 50 Most Powerful Women In Business, not once, but 4 times, including 2008, when she was the youngest woman to ever be recognized, at just 33 years of age.

While Mayer may have tough days ahead, as she tries to put Yahoo back on top of its game, she definitely has the skills necessary to do so. Her colleagues at Google have described her as “intense” to work with, and say that she knows exactly how to do her job. I say “congratulations Mrs. Mayer, and good luck!”

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