Marissa Mayer: The bio that made her Yahoo's next CEO

A geek's geek who wears the moniker proudly, Mayer has built one of Silicon Valley's most impressive resumes.

Marissa Mayer (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Beyond the two company co-founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, perhaps no other executive better symbolized the new breed of brilliant young technologist in charge at Google than Marissa Mayer.

By any measure, Mayer, appointed this afternoon as Yahoo's new chief executive, boasts one of Silicon Valley's stellar resumes.

The first female engineer and 20th employee overall hired by the then-upstart search company, Mayer rapidly distinguished herself at Google, which she joined after graduating from Stanford University with a masters degree in computer science, specializing in artificial intelligence.

Both as the executive in charge of search products and user experience, and later as VP of local, maps and localization services, Mayer was put in charge of fast-growing businesses that proved instrumental to Google's exponential growth in the last decade.

In particular, Mayer solidified her superstar cred while running the show when the number of daily searches on Google exploded from a few hundred thousand to over a billion searches. She also had a big hand in the design and development of the search interface which soon secured its place in the popular lexicon. What's more, Mayer had a hand in helping to chart the future of Google News, Gmail, and the Orkut social network.

Among the list of Mayer's accomplishments, Yahoo cited her role in helping to launch "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."

"Since arriving at Google just over 13 years ago as employee number 20, Marissa has been a tireless champion of our users," Page said in a prepared statement. "She contributed to the development of our Search, Geo, and Local products as well as many other product areas. We will miss her talents at Google."

Marissa Mayer talks to Charlie Rose and Gayle Kind on CBS This Morning, May 30, 2012

She was also a fellow geek, in the best sense of the word. Indeed, "geek" was a moniker she wore as a badge of pride during her 13 years at Google.

"I'm not a woman at Google, I'm a geek at Google," Mayer once told an interviewer. "If you can find something that you're really passionate about, whether you're a man or a woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force."

"Overall," Mayer recently told CBS This Morning, "I think Silicon Valley is a great place for women. But that said, I tend to think of my experience there, especially at Google, not as one of a woman, but as a geek. If you're a geek, Silicon Valley and Google are great places to be.... The nice thing about tech is it's a fast-moving industry. It's easy to get caught up, have new ideas, really get ahead. That fast-moving nature of it makes it both an intimidating industry but also an industry where, if you do jump in, you can make a big impact quickly.

Her high-profile accomplishments were good enough to propel her, last year, to No. 42 on Forbes' annual list of the 100 Most Powerful Women.

Now Yahoo is hoping that some of that geek passion rubs off. Though she doesn't have the media qualifications of a Ross Levensohn, who until today was considered the leading candidate to get the nod, Mayer can bring her expertise with technology and consumer products and Google DNA to bear on a company that once was the leading light in the search business -- until Google ate its lunch. In her new position, she won't be eating Google's lunch anytime soon, but she will be figuring out how to lift Yahoo's spirits and revenue.

Marissa Mayer: How I ended up at Google

 

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