Google’s first female engineer, Marissa Mayer, is the new CEO of Yahoo.
News broke Monday that Mayer, a member of the tight leadership inner circle at Google, is leaving the Silicon Valley giant for another, albeit beleaguered one. Mayer resigned by phone Monday from her position as Google’s head of consumer operations. She starts work at Yahoo on Tuesday, according to the New York Times’ Dealbook.
Mayer’s professional stock may be on the rise, but the same can’t necessarily be said for the company she’s set to lead.
Yahoo has been struggling for years. In a five-year period the company went through four CEOs, the latest being Scott Thompson. Thompson was hired in January to lead the company after Carol Bartz was unceremoniously fired by Yahoo’s board via phone. Thompson resigned in May over a falsified resume flap, then was replaced for only two months by interim CEO Ross Levinsohn.
At 37, Mayer is one of the youngest CEOs among the world’s largest companies and flies to the top of a very short list of female tech heavyweights, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Hewlett-Packard chief Meg Whitman and IBM chief Virginia Rometty.
Mayer’s new position is yet another leap forward for women in technology. But Yahoo’s persistent struggles have Post columnist Vivek Wadhwa worried. In November Wadhwa wrote that the dearth of women in tech is “one of Silicon Valley’s most glaring faults.” And in an e-mail Monday, Wadhwa articulated his concern over what damage could be done for women in the field if Mayer fails to right Yahoo’s ship:
I am delighted. Marissa is awesome. But I am also worried. This is a tough job for anyone — Yahoo truly is a sinking ship. I am not sure that it can be fixed in its current form, as a whole. It needs to be broken up into smaller units that compete on their own strengths. If Marissa wins--and the chances are low for anyone, then she will receive accolades. If she fails, the media will say that this was no job for a woman. That is my concern.
In the meantime, worries aside, the move means one more woman has emerged from the relative shadows of Silicon Valley’s power elite straight into the spotlight.
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