Google's Mayer is Yahoo's new CEO, its 5th in 4 years

Last Updated: Tue, Jul 17, 2012 19:12 hrs

Yahoo! Inc said Marissa Mayer would become chief executive officer, appointing a vice-president from competitor Google Inc to stem user defections and market-share losses that have fueled three straight years of revenue declines at the biggest US Web portal.

Mayer would take over tomorrow from interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who has led the Sunnyvale, California-based company since May, when Scott Thompson resigned over inaccuracies in his academic record. Shares of Yahoo rose in extended trading after the company made the announcement today.

As Yahoo’s fifth CEO in four years, Mayer, 37, would be charged with helping the company regain the attention of Web surfers who have backed away from the site, opting instead to socialize on Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc and search the Web using Google’s tools. Her challenge will also be wooing advertisers that have shifted marketing budgets away from Yahoo.

“She’s somebody that has a pretty good track record,” said Herman Leung, an analyst at Susquehanna International Group. “She’s a big name. But investors are saying, ‘We’ve seen this story before — we don’t know how long this lasts.’ Three CEOs in less than a year certainly makes investors try to temper upside expectations. It comes down to a matter of execution.”

At Yahoo, she’ll need to win over users and advertisers who consider the company a has-been that failed to keep pace with Google in search and Facebook in social media.

“There’s lack of gravitas and vibrancy and saliency to the Yahoo brand, and that’s a big problem,” Peter Stabler, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co. in San Francisco, said in an interview.

Users on average spent less than two hours, 15 minutes on Yahoo pages in March, compared with more than six hours for Facebook, according to ComScore Inc. Yahoo’s share of the U.S. online display-ad market will shrink to about eight per cent in 2014, while the combined share for Google and Facebook will widen to about 39 percent, according to EMarketer Inc.

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