What you do (and don't) need to know about Marissa Mayer
Marissa Mayer was employee No. 20 at Google and rose to the top - now she's been poached by Yahoo.Here she speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City at Hudson Room at the Time Warner Center on May 24, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.) Photo: Getty
Yesterday Google executive Marissa Mayer was announced as the new CEO of the struggling internet portal Yahoo. You remember Yahoo, right? You set up your first email account there in 1995 by combining your nickname and year of birth only to abandon it for Gmail after graduation when the shame of contacting someone under the handle Schooners1978@yahoo.com became a little uncomfortable.
Mayer’s announcement was exciting for many reasons. Most obviously because she’s young (37), female and (as a bonus) pregnant – unfortunately that’s still a rare enough combination to make this a worldwide news story.
Mayer got in on the ground level at Google and was their 20th employee. She rose to become one of their star executives and one of the very few people the founders let in to their inner circle.
Former Google Vice President Marissa Mayer attends the National Design Awards.
Of course Yahoo’s financial struggles and bungled previous attempts at securing a CEO also made appointing Mayer a newsworthy coup. Their last CEO Scott Thompson was dismissed after four months for lying on his resume. (He didn’t actually have that computer science degree he mentioned.)
Mayer is widely being described as “a media darling” which, in the dot com industry, I believe means she’s not on the Aspergers spectrum and is able to competently engage in social chit chat while maintaining eye contact.
Of course the other thing about Mayer, the thing that’s not being said in any of the reporting, but is being implied in various ways is that she’s conventionally beautiful. She’s blonde, petite and very stylish.
As if unable to cope with the affronting nature of all this, some media organisations have chosen to zero in on one just one fact.
“But which one?”, you may cry. In a list of so many accomplishments which one will bring in the clicks? Is it her achievements inside Google? (For years she has been responsible for the look and feel of their most popular products: the search homepage, Gmail, Google News and Google Images). Or is it what she’s achieved outside the office? (She is one of four women on Wal-Mart's 16-person board). Perhaps it’s the tough job she has ahead of her? (Yahoo's revenue rose just 1 per cent from a year ago, after a string of steep declines). Or is it the juicy gossip (She’s pregnant! She lives at The Four Seasons! The compensation package is rumoured to be $US27 million!)
No. They’ve made it about cupcakes...
But we don’t have to. Let’s instead salute her awesome achievement, look forward to the day that this is no longer a rarity and most of all, let’s never, ever mention the cupcakes.