What hiring Marissa Mayer immediately does for Yahoo

With Marissa Mayer at the helm, Yahoo has become relevant again. But can Mayer right the ship for the long term?

Good luck, Marissa.
Dan Farber/CNET

Yahoo has pulled off an incredible coup. Forget Carol Bartz, Scott Thompson, and Ross Levinsohn -- Marissa Mayer is Yahoo's new CEO.

I can't stress how much of a coup this is for Yahoo. Mayer, Google's 20th employee and first female employee, was one of the search giant's most recognizable faces. She ran product for Google's search engine for years before being relegated to Google's local products. It was clear her influence in the company had waned, which may be why it wasn't a hard decision for her to leave the comfortable world of Google.

Mayer's arrival at the struggling tech giant will have an immediate impact on Yahoo. Here are just a few of the things she does for the company:

  • Mayer brings Yahoo new credibility in technology. Yahoo has struggled with its identity as a hybrid media/technology company for years. Terry Semel's reign pushed Yahoo into the media realm, while Carol Bartz and Scott Thompson were indications that Yahoo wanted to go back to its technology roots. Choosing Mayer over Levinsohn makes it crystal clear that Yahoo intends to make products that compete with those from the heavy hitters.
  • The media will stop beating Yahoo like a broken pinata. Mayer is popular with the media -- they are going to follow every move, but they're going to give Mayer time to implement her plan for Yahoo's future. Yahoo is safe until there's a major screwup.
  • Mayer will attract big talent. Mayer is charismatic. She'll remake Yahoo and bring in her own team of executives, who will then recruit their own teams as well. I expect a talent infusion at Yahoo.
  • The move instantly makes Yahoo relevant in Silicon Valley again. Mayer is one of Silicon Valley's most prominent executives. I can tell you from personal experience that she immediately controls whatever room she walks into. She's savvy, sophisticated, and gracious. It's very, very hard not to like her when you first meet her. The Twitterverse seems to agree with me as well:

Yahoo will get a short-term boost from Mayer, but she remains untested as a CEO -- it's yet to be seen whether her management style will resonate there. Yahoo isn't just a fix-me-up project, either -- it's a total overhaul. Its problems are extensive and systemic. Mayer will have to create new products that can bring people to Yahoo's properties, and she'll have to find a vision that will resonate with both Wall Street and the rank-and-file engineering talent of Silicon Valley.

You've got a long road ahead of you, Marissa. I wish you luck.

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