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Add a new name to the extremely short list of women at the top of a Silicon Valley company: Marrisa Mayer.
Yahoo announced Monday that it has tapped the longtime Google executive to be its next CEO and president, a move the New York Times declared a "surprising coup." Once Google’s first female engineer, Mayer will step out of the huge Google pond where she became a big fish over 13 years and into the relatively smaller Yahoo pond, where she’ll be the biggest fish.
A highly visible employee at Google as one of the company’s few public faces, Mayer created and operated some of its most popular products, including the now-distinctive white search homepage, Gmail, Google News, and Google Images. More recently, she ran Google Maps and sat on the company’s operating committee.
Mayer told the Times that despite having "had an amazing time at Google," ultimately "it was a reasonably easy decision" to take the highest position at Yahoo after being offered it in the middle of June. The company’s most recent chief executive resigned in May after only four months.
A trained engineer, Mayer’s first job at Google included computer programming. Forbes points to this as a significant advantage, since Yahoo needs strong technical leadership to bring it out of the shadow of Google and Facebook. The magazine also names Mayer’s charisma as a major asset, describing her as "a charmer with serious technical chops."
Mayer accepted a seat on the 16-person board of Wal-Mart in April, becoming one of only four women on the board of the world’s largest retailer.