Both Google, the Internet's search leader, and Facebook have been beating Yahoo Inc. in the battle for Web surfers' attention and advertisers' marketing budgets. As Yahoo has lagged in that pivotal race, so has its financial performance and stock price. The stock has been slumping since Yahoo Inc. balked at a chance to sell itself to Microsoft Corp. for $47.5 billion, or $33 per share, in May 2008.
Yahoo shares haven't traded above $20 since September 2008. The announcement came after the market closed Monday. On Tuesday, it lost 3 cents to $15.62 in midday trading.
"If she can pull this off and turn around Yahoo, it will make her legacy," Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner said of Mayer. "Yahoo's iconic yodel has been missing for a long time. Her mission will be to bring that yodel back."
This will be the first time that Mayer has run a company as she steps out of the long shadow cast by the Google's ruling triumvirate — co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, along with Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Although she had her responsibilities at Google narrowed two years ago, Mayer is still widely considered to among the Internet industry's brightest executives. A Wisconsin native, Mayer is a mathematics whiz with a sponge-like memory and a keen eye for design.