INTRIGUE: Yahoo POACHES New Leader from Google

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Marissa Mayer, a top executive at Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), has been appointed the next chief executive of Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) in a surprising stratagem for the struggling company. Mayer was one of the few public faces of Google and had been in charge of several of Google’s most popular products, including the search homepage, Gmail, Google News, Google Images, and Google Maps.

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The 37-year-old vice president, a trained engineer, often appeared at keynotes at technology conferences for the company and was also part of Google’s operating committee, a small group of senior executives working alongside co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Earlier this year, she had joined the board of Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT).

Fred Amoroso, chairman of Yahoo’s board, said the directors “unanimously agreed that Marissa’s unparalleled track record in technology, design and product execution makes her the right leader for Yahoo.”

Mayer said in a statement that she looked forward to working with the company’s employees to “bring dedicated products, content and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world.”

She also told the New York Times that she would leverage Yahoo’s strong franchises, including email, finance, and sports. She also hopes to do more with its video broadband and its mobile businesses. Mayer will start at Yahoo on Tuesday and will join the company’s board.

The top position had been vacant at Yahoo since May when former CEO Scott Thompson was asked to leave after allegations that he provided misinformation about his academic credentials. Thompson had been on the job for only four months, but had already faced several challenges, including activities of activist investor Daniel Loeb of Third Point, who wanted to appoint his own nominees to the board. Ross Levinsohn, who had taken over as interim chief executive after Thompson’s departure, had widely been believed to be the front-runner for the position.

While Yahoo remains one of the largest properties on the web, it has failed to keep pace with rivals Google and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). The company’s shares have fallen 41 percent over the past 5 years and in the first quarter, its revenue rose barely 1 percent from a year ago after a string of deep declines.

Mayer’s appointment will make her one of the most prominent women in Silicon Valley, but she will be part of a small group of women chief executives. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) is headed by Meg Whitman, while Virginia Rometty oversees IBM (NYSE:IBM). Facebook’s chief operating officer is Sheryl Sandberg.

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