MARISSA ANN MAYER (/ˈmaɪər/ ; born May 30, 1975) is an American
information technology executive, formerly serving as the president
and CEO of
Yahoo! , a position she had held starting July 2012. In
January 2017, it was announced that she will step down from the
company's board upon the sale of Yahoo!'s operating business to
Verizon Communications . She announced that resignation on June 13,
2017. She is a graduate of
Stanford and was a long-time executive,
usability leader, and key spokesperson for
* 1 Early life and education
* 2 Career
* 2.2 Yahoo
* 2.3 Allegations of WARN Act violations and gender-based
* 3 Boards and honors
* 4 Personal life
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
* 7 External links
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Mayer was born in
Wausau, Wisconsin , the daughter of Margaret Mayer,
art teacher of Finnish descent, and Michael Mayer, an environmental
engineer who worked for water companies. Her grandfather, Clem
Mayer, had polio when he was 7 and served as mayor of Jackson,
Wisconsin , for 32 years. She has a younger brother. She would
later describe herself as having been "painfully shy" as a child and
teenager. She "never had fewer than one after-school activity per
day," participating in ballet, ice-skating, piano, swimming, debate,
and Brownies . During middle school and high school, she took piano
and ballet lessons, the latter of which taught her "criticism and
discipline, poise, and confidence." At an early age, she showed an
interest in math and science.
When she was attending
Wausau West High School , Mayer was on the
curling team and the precision dance team. She excelled in chemistry,
calculus, biology, and physics. She took part in extracurricular
activities, becoming president of her high school's Spanish club,
treasurer of the Key Club, captain of the debate team, and captain of
the pom-pom squad. Her high school debate team won the Wisconsin
state championship and the pom-pom squad was the state runner-up.
During high school, she worked as a grocery clerk. After graduating
from high school in 1993, Mayer was selected by
Tommy Thompson , then
Governor of Wisconsin , as one of the state's two delegates to
National Youth Science Camp in West Virginia.
Intending to become a pediatric neurosurgeon, Mayer took pre-med
Stanford University . She later switched her major from
pediatric neuroscience to symbolic systems , a major which combined
philosophy, cognitive psychology, linguistics, and computer science.
At Stanford, she danced in the university ballet's Nutcracker, was a
member of parliamentary debate, volunteered at children's hospitals,
and helped bring computer science education to Bermuda's schools.
During her junior year, she taught a class in symbolic systems, with
Eric S. Roberts as her supervisor. The class was so well received by
students that Roberts asked Mayer to teach another class over the
summer. Mayer went on to graduate with honors from
Stanford with a BS
in symbolic systems in 1997 and an MS in computer science in 1999.
For both degrees, her specialization was in artificial intelligence .
For her undergraduate thesis, she built travel-recommendation software
that advised users in natural-sounding human language. In 2009, the
Illinois Institute of Technology granted Mayer an honoris causa
doctorate degree in recognition of her work in the field of search .
Mayer interned at
SRI International in
Menlo Park, California , and
UBS 's research lab based in
Zurich , Switzerland. She holds
several patents in artificial intelligence and interface design.
Marissa Mayer speaking at the
Google "Search On" event in 2010.
After graduating from Stanford, Mayer received 14 job offers,
including a teaching job at
Carnegie Mellon University and a
consulting job at McKinsey ">
Marissa Mayer at an interview while
working for Google.
In 2002, Mayer started the Associate Product Manager (APM) program, a
Google mentorship program aimed to recruit new talents and cultivate
and train them for leadership roles within the company. Each year,
Mayer selected a number of junior employees for the two-year program,
which would see them take on a number of extracurricular assignments
and intensive evening classes. Notable graduates of the program
Bret Taylor and
Justin Rosenstein . In 2005 she became Vice
President of Search Products and User Experience. Mayer held key
Google Search ,
Google Images ,
Google News ,
Google Maps ,
Google Books ,
Google Product Search ,
Google Toolbar , i
Google , and
Mayer was the vice president of
Google Search Products and User
Experience until the end of 2010, when she was asked by then-CEO Eric
Schmidt to head the Local, Maps, and Location Services. In 2011, she
secured Google's acquisition of survey site
Zagat for $125 million.
While Mayer was working at Google, she taught introductory computer
Stanford and mentored students at the East Palo Alto
Charter School. She was awarded the Centennial Teaching Award and
the Forsythe Award from Stanford.
Michael Arrington and
Marissa Mayer at
On July 16, 2012, Mayer was appointed president and CEO of
effective the following day. She is also a member of the company's
board of directors. To simplify the bureaucratic process and "make
the culture the best version of itself", Mayer launched a new online
program called PB if a problem generates at least 50 votes, online
management automatically investigates the matter. In February 2013,
Mayer oversaw a major personnel policy change at
Yahoo! that required
all remote-working employees to convert to in-office roles. Having
worked from home toward the end of her pregnancy, Mayer returned to
work after giving birth to a boy, and built a mother's room next to
her office suite—Mayer was consequently criticized for the
telecommuting ban. In April 2013, Mayer changed Yahoo!'s maternity
leave policy, lengthening its time allowance and providing a cash
bonus to parents. CNN noted this was in line with other Silicon
Valley companies, such as Facebook and Google. Mayer has been
criticized for many of her management decisions in pieces by The New
York Times and
The New Yorker .
On May 20, 2013, Mayer led
Yahoo! to acquire
Tumblr in a $1.1 billion
acquisition. In February 2016,
Yahoo! acknowledged that the value of
Tumblr had fallen by $230 million since it was acquired. In July 2013,
Yahoo! reported a fall in revenues, but a rise in profits compared
with the same period in the previous year. Reaction on Wall Street was
muted, with shares falling 1.7%. In September 2013, it was reported
that the stock price of
Yahoo! had doubled over the 14 months since
Mayer's appointment. However, much of this growth may be attributed
to Yahoo!'s stake in the Chinese e-commerce company
Alibaba Group ,
which was acquired before Mayer's tenure. Mayer delivering a
conference keynote .
In November 2013, Mayer instituted a performance review system based
on a bell curve ranking of employees, suggesting that managers rank
their employees on a bell curve, with those at the low end being
fired. Employees complained that some managers were viewing the
process as mandatory. In February 2016, a former
filed a lawsuit against the company claiming that Yahoo's firing
practices have violated both California and federal labor laws.
In 2014, Mayer was ranked sixth on Fortune 's 40 under 40 list, and
was ranked the 16th most-powerful businesswoman in the world that year
according to the same publication. In March 2016 Fortune would name
Mayer as one of the world's most disappointing leaders. Yahoo!
stocks continued to fall by more than 30% throughout 2015, while 12
key executives left the company.
In December 2015, the New York-based hedge fund SpringOwl, a
shareholder in Yahoo Inc., released a statement arguing that Mayer be
replaced as CEO. Starboard Value, an activist investing firm that
owns a stake in Yahoo, likewise wrote a scathing letter regarding
Mayer's performance at Yahoo. By January 2016, it was further
estimated that Yahoo!'s core business has been worth less than zero
dollars for the past few quarters. In February 2016, Mayer confirmed
Yahoo! was considering the possibility of selling its core
business. In March 2017, it was reported that Mayer could receive a
$23 million termination package upon the sale of
Mayer announced her resignation on June 13, 2017. In spite of large
losses in advertising revenue at
Yahoo! and a 50% reduction in staff
during her 5 years as CEO, Mayer was paid a total of $239 million over
that time, mainly in stock and stock options. On the day of her
resignation, Mayer publicly highlighted many of the company's
achievements during her tenure, including: creating $43B in market
capitalization, tripling Yahoo stock, growing mobile users to over 650
million, building a $1.5B mobile ad business, and transforming Yahoo's
culture. Mayer with the House Democratic leader
Nancy Pelosi ,
May 3, 2014
ALLEGATIONS OF WARN ACT VIOLATIONS AND GENDER-BASED DISCRIMINATION
Scott Ard, a prominent editorial director, fired from
Yahoo! in 2015,
filed a lawsuit alleging that “Mayer encouraged and fostered the use
of (an employee performance-rating system) to accommodate
management’s subjective biases and personal opinions, to the
detriment of Yahoo!’s male employees." He claimed that, prior to his
firing, he had received "fully satisfactory" performance reviews since
starting at the company in 2011 as head of editorial programming for
Yahoo!'s home page; however, he was relieved of his role, which was
given to a woman who had been recently hired.
An earlier lawsuit was filed by Gregory Anderson, who was fired in
2014, alleging the company’s performance management system was
arbitrary and unfair and disguised layoffs as terminations for the
purpose of evading state and federal WARN Acts , making it the first
WARN Act and gender discrimination lawsuit
Yahoo! and Mayer faced in
BOARDS AND HONORS
As well as sitting on the boards of directors of
Walmart and Jawbone
, Mayer also sits on several non-profit boards such as
Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum
Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum ,
New York City Ballet , San
Francisco Ballet , and
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art . Mayer
actively invests in technology companies, including crowd-sourced
Minted , live video platform
Airtime.com , wireless
power startup uBeam , online DIY community/e-commerce company Brit +
Co. , mobile payments processor Square , home décor site One Kings
Lane, genetic testing company
Natera , and nootropics and
Mayer was named to Fortune magazine's annual list of America's 50
Most Powerful Women in Business in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and
2013 with ranks at 50, 44, 42, 38, 14 and 8 respectively. In 2008, at
age 33, she was the youngest woman ever listed. Mayer was named one of
Glamour Magazine 's Women of the Year in 2009. She was listed in
Forbes Magazine\'s List of The World\'s 100 Most Powerful Women in
2012, 2013 and 2014, with ranks of 20, 32 and 18 respectively. In
September 2013, Mayer became the first CEO of a
Fortune 500 company to
be featured in a Vogue magazine spread. In 2013, she was also named
Time 100 and became the first woman listed as number one on
Fortune magazine's annual list of the top 40 business stars under 40
years old. Mayer eventually made Fortune magazine history in 2013, as
the only person to feature in all three of its annual lists during the
same year: Businessperson of the Year (No. 10), Most Powerful Women
(at No. 8), and 40 Under 40 (No. 1) at the same time. On 24 December
2015, Mayer was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 14 in
the list of 500 Most Influential CEOs. In March 2016, in contrast,
Fortune named Mayer as one of the world's most disappointing leaders.
Mayer married lawyer and investor Zachary Bogue on December 12, 2009.
On the day
Yahoo! announced her hiring, Mayer revealed that she was
pregnant; she gave birth to a baby boy on September 30, 2012.
Although she asked for suggestions via social media , the name
Macallister was eventually chosen for her baby's name from an existing
list. On December 10, 2015, Mayer announced that she had given birth
to identical twin girls, Marielle and Sylvana.
Mayer is Lutheran , but said, referencing
Vince Lombardi 's "Your
God, your family and the
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers " quote, her priorities are
"God, family and Yahoo!, except I'm not that religious, so it's really
family and Yahoo!." Since 2008, Mayer has lived on the 38th-floor
penthouse suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
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