21 things you didn’t know about new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer was appointed the new CEO of Yahoo! yesterday. Having been a Google leader for 13 years, Mayer is an important recruitment for a company that has struggled in recent years.

Meet the woman behind the role with 21 little-known facts about Mayer.

1. On the same day Yahoo! announced hiring her as its leader, Mayer was pregnant – six months pregnant. She and her husband are expecting a baby boy in October 2012. She is the first pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

2. Mayer has a preoccupation with spreadsheets — and perfection. San Francisco Mag says Mayer “bought an array of cookbooks to study the cupcake recipes in each, created a spreadsheet for the ingredients, and then tested the recipes before writing her own.” She made another spreadsheet for frosting.

3. In 1999, Marissa Mayer calculated that Google had a 2% chance of success. That didn’t stop the then recent Stanford University graduate became its 20th employee.

4. Marissa was Google’s first female employee.

5. After receiving 14 job offers after graduation, Marissa created a matrix, ranking each position on salary, location, chance of success, lifestyle, career trajectory, and happiness. She then recruited an economist to help her analyze her data and spent hours charting pros and cons with her friend before deciding which offer to accept.

6. The other position Mayer was most seriously weighing was with McKinsey & Company, a prestigious consulting firm with a distinguished lineage and dozens of alumni who went on to become the CEOs of Fortune 500 firms. She chose Google because it had the smartest people.

7. She’s not universally loved at Google. A piece on Business Insider quoted anonymous sources who described her as bullying and overly exacting. However, other sources said her management style had changed since her early days. All those quoted made a point of stressing her intelligence and how hard she worked.

8. She was responsible for the clean look of Google’s popular products: the simple white search homepage, Gmail, Google News, and Google Images.

9. Mayer began overseeing location and local services – such as Google Maps – at Google in October 2010 as the company chased areas of growth outside the traditional Internet searches.

10. Marissa Mayer has amassed a fortune of over $300 million.

11. Marissa received her Bachelor of Science in symbolic systems and her Masters of Science in computer science from Stanford University. For both degrees, she specialised in artificial intelligence.

12. Mayer, who calls herself a “proud geek,” did not grow up obsessed with computers — she didn’t buy her first one until college. Rather, she wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.

13. Fortune magazine has listed her for the past three years on their annual Most Powerful Women’s list, and she was the youngest ever to appear on the list (35). She also has been named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine.

14. Marissa serves on the board of various non-profits, including the Smithsonian National Design Museum, the New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

15. In 1993, Wisconsin governor Jim Doyle selected Mayer as one of the state’s two delegates to attend the National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia. One of the lecturers – Professor Dunes – changed her life as she realized it was not what people knew, but how they thought, that was powerful.

16. Mayer is good at mentoring talent. She created a program at Google to train product managers on executive leadership. Many of them are now managers at places like Ubar, Dropbox, and Polyvore.

17. She places high importance on helping her team find balance in their lives; the balance she feels she has created in hers. Mayer has spoken of helping both the men and women on her team identify their non-work passions and to make certain those commitments remain a part of the fabric of each week.

18. She figures that only 15-17% of Silicon Valley programmers are women, and she blames this low number on the tech industry’s bad image and misrepresented idea of what a “geek” really is: “The stereotype of that very complete and rigid picture of what being a computer scientist means really hurts people’s understanding and ability to identify with the role and say, ‘Yes, this is something I can be in and want to be in.'”

19. Mayer, though, has stressed that her interest is, and always will be, putting the most qualified technical talent to work regardless of gender.

20. Mayer married Zach Bogue in 2009, managing partner of Founders Den.

21. She has long been a subject of media interest, but she has now reached international fame. When you Google Marissa Mayer, you get 13,900,000 hits.

This article first appeared on LeadingCompany.


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