We have some breaking news out of Silicon Valley this afternoon. Embattled internet company Yahoo! has named Marissa Mayer, a 13-year employee of rival Google, as their new Chief Executive Officer.
Ms. Mayer, at 37, will be a fresh face for Yahoo!, which has found itself struggling ever since turning down Microsoft’s $40-per-share buyout offer in 2007. That debacle, which enraged investors and cast significant anger toward then-CEO and Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Wang. The Microsoft buyout debacle eventually led Yang to step down as CEO in 2009. Yahoo! has also seen significant criticism for bad business decisions regarding Flickr, the photo management website that was once one of the largest photo websites in the world and pioneered several Web 2.0 features now commonplace, including social integration of photos.
Ms. Mayer is an engineer by trade, though she has had prominent success at Google on the business side of things as well, specifically impacting Google’s extremely profitable search business. Yahoo! has already conceded this territory to Google, as it abandoned its own search system when it partnered with Microsoft in 2009. There are other areas, however, where Ms. Mayer will now have to battle fiercely with her former employee.
Despite remaining as one world’s most visited websites, with a current Alexa ranking of 4, Yahoo! has largely faded away from the spotlight over the last five years. Their former paramount Internet real estate has been taken over by companies founded in the Web 2.0 era, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. However, even though Yahoo! has seen its spotlight glimmer over the last five years, the company still remains quite profitable, banking just over $1 billion in profits in 2011.
Ms. Mayer has some great things about Yahoo! to work with, specifically their excellent Finance and Sports sections, so hopefully she will be able to turn the company around. However, will she even get enough time to do so? Yahoo’s last official CEO, Carol Burtz, was fired just two and a half years after being named top executive. Let’s hope that Ms. Mayer gets a longer leash with her attempt to turn the company around.