In a surprise move, Yahoo! has named top Google exec Marissa Mayer its new president and CEO – the fifth in five years.
"I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the internet's premier destinations for more than 700 million users," Mayer said in a statement. "I look forward to working with the Company's dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content, and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world."
The issue of who would occupy the CEO seat has been a cloud over Yahoo! since the May resignation of former CEO Scott Thompson, in a shareholder row that also saw several directors exit the company.
Since then, Ross Levinsohn has acted as interim CEO, and many analysts expected the role to become permanent. Other rumors suggested Yahoo! might tap current Hulu.com boss Jason Kilar for the CEO seat.
In Mayer, Yahoo! gains a boss who has played a key role in designing and developing many of Google's online services, including its Spartan search homepage, Gmail, Google News, Google Earth, Google Images, and many others. Most recently, she was responsible for Google Maps and its related location-based services.
Mayer joined Google in 1999 as the company's first female engineer and its 20th employee. Like many top Google brass, she is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned both a bachelor's degree in symbolic systems and a master's degree in computer science, both with a specialty in artificial intelligence.
With her appointment as Yahoo! CEO, she becomes one of the most powerful women in Silicon Valley – and, for that matter, in American business as a whole. Only 18 companies on the Fortune 500 currently have a female boss.
According to Yahoo!'s press release, the appointment "signals a renewed focus on product innovation" at the company, which has struggled in recent years to compete with rival online services such as Google and Facebook. In April, it reported its first sales growth in three years.
Mayer will also join Yahoo!'s board.
"There is a lot to do and I can't wait to get started," Mayer said. She begins her new role on Tuesday – not a moment too soon, for Yahoo!'s beleaguered shareholders and staff. ®