Marissa Mayer has a lot to celebrate these days. Not only did the 37-year-old Google vice president start a high-profile new role as the CEO of Yahoo on Tuesday, she also announced Monday she is six months pregnant with her first child.
The announcement that Mayer, one of the most highly visible women working in tech, would be taking over as President and CEO of the struggling Internet giant came as a shock to many. Now a celebrity in the tech community, Mayer joined Google in 1999 as its 20th employee and first female engineer and became one of the search giant’s most famous faces.
News of her pregnancy also came as a surprise, as just hours after her move to Yahoo became public Mayer revealed she is due to give birth to a baby boy on Oct. 7. She praised the Yahoo board for not blinking an eye at hiring a pregnant woman to run the company.
“They showed their evolved thinking,” Mayer told Fortune.
The expectant mom said she began talks with Yahoo last month, when a high-level recruiter called her on June 18. Now that she has started the job she doesn’t plan to let her pregnancy interfere with her work schedule.
“I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she told the magazine. “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”
The Stanford grad – who once dated Google co-founder Larry Page – is now married to Zachary Bogue, a trained lawyer who co-founded a private equity firm and works with startups. So far, their baby boy is fitting into the family mold.
“He’s super active,” she told Fortune. “He moves around a lot. My doctor says that he takes after his parents.”
Mayer wasted no time getting to work at Yahoo, announcing in a press release that “There is a lot to do and I can’t wait to get started.”
All eyes will be on the blond beauty as she tries to turn around the fortunes of the flailing company, which has churned through three CEOs in the last year.
In May, Scott Thompson was forced to resign as CEO after less than six months on the job when it was revealed he had faked parts of his resume. Thompson had replaced Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after failing to fix the company. Mayer replaces interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who was expected by many to take over the role permanently. Mayer would not comment on that except to praise Levinsohn to Fortune as “a phenomenal executive.”
Mayer had an impressive impact during her 13-year track record at Google, leading a number of the company’s businesses over the years from Google News to Gmail to Image Search, as well as curating the Google Doodle. Most recently she served as a vice president working on location services and maps, though it was reported that she had been pushed out of Page’s inner circle after he was appointed CEO last year, and she wasd denied a promotion.
A Google source shot down that interpretation of events last month, telling Business Insider that Mayer ran “something like 20-25% of the company overall.”
As one of a handful of women at the top of the tech food chain, Mayer has also proved controversial – mocked for her glamorous lifestyle and her interests in fashion, baking and shopping. Described in a 2008 magazine profile as “Grace Kelly gorgeous,” she’s been called a “social climber” and “Google’s biggest failure.”
But the Stanford grad, who earlier this years was named the first woman to Wal-Mart’s board of directors, has brushed off that kind of criticism.
“I refuse to be stereotyped,” she told The New York Times in 2009. “I think it’s very comforting for people to put me in a box. ‘Oh, she’s a fluffy girlie girl who likes clothes and cupcakes. Oh, but wait, she is spending her weekends doing hardware electronics.’”
Though her departure from Google came as a shock to the industry, it’s clear Mayer had been eyeing her next move for years, even publicly speculating about it as far back as 2008.
“I helped build Google,” she told San Francisco magazine at the time,” but I don’t like to rest on (my) laurels. I think the most interesting thing is what happens next.”