Google’s first female engineer, Marissa Mayer, has made a career out of bucking expectations — and she did so once again on Monday, reports CNN, by announcing she will leave Google to be the new CEO of Yahoo, the struggling company that once was Google’s main competitor.
Mayer, 37, edged out front-runner and acting Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn to become Yahoo’s third CEO in a year.
According to Reuters, Mayer, Google’s 20th employee and first female engineer, has led a number of its businesses, and was credited for envisioning the clean, simple Google search interface still in use today, a major selling point for Web surfers.
At Google, Mayer was also responsible for overseeing the launch of some of the company’s most iconic products, including Gmail, Google Maps and iGoogle.
A pioneering Internet company that helped shape the industry in the 1990s, Yahoo is trying to remain relevant after failing to adapt to changing innovations like sophisticated search technology and social media tools, writes The New York Times.
As Google and Facebook have emerged as Web giants, Yahoo has struggled to create a distinct strategy, even though its audience remains among the largest on the Internet. Now, the company is moving to lay off thousands of employees, in the face of slumping profits and a lackluster stock.
Mayer will start on Tuesday, when the company is scheduled to report its quarterly financial results, but she will not join the post-release conference call.
Mayer also revealed on Twitter that she is pregnant with her first child, a boy. Her child is due October 7.
“He’s super-active,” Mayer said. “He moves around a lot. My doctor says that he takes after his parents.”
However, according to Mashable, Mayer’s pregnancy was not an issue to the company’s board. Yahoo’s decision reflects a change in a business environment once inhospitable to mothers and women expecting children.
“It was not part of the consideration,” said an anonymous person familiar with the situation. “Like every other professional woman, she has to weigh all the factors in doing her job and having a family.”
Mayer also expressed that she was pleased the Yahoo board was not concerned, telling Fortune their actions “showed their evolved thinking.”
As for maternity leave, Mayer, who recently joined the board of Walmart, expects it to be speedy. “I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she says, referring to the CEO job that she is starting tomorrow. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”
Mayer’s husband is Zachary Bogue, a lawyer who traded practicing law to invest in “big-data startups,” she says. Bogue recently launched an investment fund called Data Collective.
Raised in Wausau, Wisconsin, the 37-year-old Mayer joined Google in 1999 when it was a fledgling start-up, not an Internet titan. She danced in “The Nutcracker” ballet at Stanford and earned a degree in computer science.
“There is such a stereotype of the hacker — the pasty-skinned guy with the thick glasses, the pocket protector, the blue glow coming off of the monitor … people think if they’re going to be good at this, that’s what they need to be,” Mayer told CNN.
“You can be good at technology and like fashion and art. You can be good at technology and be a jock. You can be good at technology and be a mom. You can do it your way, on your terms.”
Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Mayer’s hiring was a “real win” for Yahoo. He, however, dismissed the notion that Mayer left because she was marginalized at Google.
“I promoted her through the ranks and she is now running this sort of big maps business, which is a lot of money,” Schmidt said on the sidelines of the Fortune conference.
“It’s a nice big step for her,” he added. “It’s a loss for Google.”
Mayer is well-known for her sense of style – and her love for all things Oscar de la Renta.
She is also known for hosting parties — from intimate literary salons in her Four Seasons penthouse in San Francisco to Christmas bashes at her home in Silicon Valley near the Googleplex — and is a regular on society pages, especially after her wedding to real estate investor Zachary Bogue in 2009.
With her appointment as the president and chief executive of Yahoo on Monday, Mayer joins a shortlist of women in the technology industry to hold the top spot.
The elite club includes Meg Whitman, the chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, and Virginia M. Rometty, the head of I.B.M. Another senior woman in Silicon Valley, Sheryl Sandberg, is Facebook’s chief operating officer.