When Marissa Mayer was appointed as Yahoo’s new chief executive four years ago, everybody was expecting nothing less than magic from her in helping to revive a company that was once among the web search leaders.
Many believed her expertise with technology and products could help Yahoo reclaim its proper standing in the very competitive industry it used to dominate.
Today, with the company’s continued flagging revenue and impending sale, her legacy has been marred with media heavily criticizing her management decisions and shareholders calling for her replacement.
This is a far cry from her reputation at Google, where Mayer spent 13 years as employee number 20 and contributed largely to the unique look and feel of the site. Did you know that the minimal look of Google’s font page was her idea?
Ironically, in many ways, Mayer’s accomplishments at Google helped her clinch the Yahoo CEO post.
A self-professed geek, she was a young innovative technologist known for her attention to detail and ability to get things done effectively.
Her early years at the company saw Mayer writing code, supervising small teams of engineers, and developing and designing Google’s search tools and content.
She was soon promoted to director of consumer web products and became instrumental in designing the now familiar simplified layout of Google’s search homepage.
She was also part of the team who built Google AdWords, an algorithm used by advertisers to identify what consumers are searching for. AdWords pulled in 96% of the company’s revenue in Q1 of 2011.
Mayer also helped create the Associate Product Manager (APM) program in 2002, a mentorship program that cultivate and train new talents for leadership roles in Google.
When she became vice president of search products and user experience in 2005, Mayer oversaw the development of several products such as Gmail, Google Search, iGoogle, Google Images, Google Maps, Google Books, Google News, Google Product Search, and Google Toolbar. Yup, she had a huge hand in many Google products we’ve grown to love today.
In 2010, she was moved to head the company’s local, maps, and location services, where she helped develop navigation tools and products for the company.
Her brilliance and influence in the world’s biggest company were enough to consistently land her a spot in Fortune magazine’s America’s 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list in 2008 (ranked 50th), 2009 (44th), 2010 (42nd), 2011 (38th), 2012 (14th) and 2013 (8th).
She was also listed in Forbes’ List of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2012 (20th), 2013 (32nd) and 2014 (18th).
Her numerous accomplishments enabled Mayer to build one of Silicon Valley’s most impressive resumes and eventually landed her Yahoo’s CEO post in 2012.
“I’m not a woman at Google, I’m a geek at Google,” Mayer told CNN in 2012. “If you can find something that you’re really passionate about, whether you’re a man or a woman comes a lot less into play. Passion is a gender-neutralizing force.”