Longtime Google Exec Marissa Mayer Is Yahoo’s New CEO

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Marissa Mayer, the technology executive who has worked at Google since the search company’s earliest days, has been appointed CEO of Yahoo.

The news was first reported by the New York Times. The company has confirmed the appointment in a press release, which is embedded in full below.

Mayer’s first day will be tomorrow, which is also when Yahoo’s next quarterly earnings call is slated to take place.

It’s been a tough few years for Yahoo — and its last CEO Scott Thompson departed under less than ideal terms — so the appointment of Mayer is clearly meant to be a fresh start for the long-running Silicon Valley company.

There’s no question that Marissa Mayer is certainly a catch for Yahoo. After receiving a B.S. in symbolic systems and her M.S. in computer science from Stanford (no fudged engineering credentials here) she started at Google in 1999 as the company’s 20th employee and its first female engineer. Since then she has stayed on with the company and served as one of its most public faces, making appearances on the tech conference circuit, network television morning shows, evening newscasts such as Charlie Rose, and even as a frequent TechCrunch Disrupt judge.

That this news is surprising is an understatement — it’s fair to say that most people in tech did not see this coming from a mile away. But when you dig into it, it makes sense. Most recently, it had appeared that Mayer’s role at Google had been scaled back a bit. As part of a Google re-organization some 18 months ago, she moved from a role as VP of search product to a somewhat lower-visibility role as VP of location and local services. With that job change, she was shifted off of Google’s highest strata of executives, according to people familiar with the company.

These shifts may have made her a bit more open to considering new offers — and made an opportunity like this too attractive to pass up. Yahoo’s luster may be a bit faded, but it is still a major, publicly-traded company. It will be very exciting to see what Mayer brings to the table as CEO.

Here is Yahoo’s full statement regarding Mayer’s appointment:

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) today announced that it has appointed Marissa Mayer as President and Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board of Directors effective July 17, 2012. The appointment of Ms. Mayer, a leading consumer internet executive, signals a renewed focus on product innovation to drive user experience and advertising revenue for one of the world’s largest consumer internet brands, whose leading properties include Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Sports, Yahoo! Mobile, Yahoo! Mail, and Yahoo! Search.

Mayer said, “I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo!, one of the internet’s premier destinations for more than 700 million users. 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.”

Most recently, Mayer was responsible for Local, Maps, and Location Services for Google, the company’s suite of local and geographical products including Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View, and local search, for desktop and mobile. Mayer joined Google in 1999 as its 20th employee and led efforts for many of Google’s most recognizable products, including the development of its flagship search product and iconic homepage for over 10 years. Mayer managed some of Google’s most successful innovations, launching more than 100 features and products including image, book and product search, toolbar, iGoogle, Google News, and Gmail — creating much of the “look and feel” of the Google user experience.

Yahoo! Co-Founder David Filo said, “Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley’s most exciting strategists in technology development. I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo’s product offerings for our over 700 million unique monthly visitors.”

“The Board of Directors unanimously agreed that Marissa’s unparalleled track record in technology, design, and product execution makes her the right leader for Yahoo! at this time of enormous opportunity,” said Fred Amoroso, Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Mayer received her B.S. in Symbolic Systems and her M.S. in Computer Science from Stanford University, specializing in artificial intelligence for both degrees. She is credited as an inventor on several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.

“Yahoo!’s products will continue to enhance our partnerships with advertisers, technology and media companies, while inspiring and delighting our users. There is a lot to do and I can’t wait to get started,” Mayer said.