Mayer, who has hosted President Barack Obama at her home, was hired by Google in 1999 as its 20th employee and first female engineer. She has a bachelor's degree in symbolic systems and a master's degree in computer science from Stanford University, where she specialized in artificial intelligence. She also holds an honorary doctorate from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Mayer has managed some of Google's most successful innovations, including image, book and product search, the toolbar, iGoogle, Google News and Gmail, Yahoo noted.
Most recently she was responsible for local, mapping and location services for Google, which include Google Maps, Google Earth, Zagat, Street View and local search.
According to Forbes Magazine, Mayer will be Yahoo's seventh leader CEO since 2007. She is the fourth CEO at Yahoo this year. She takes the place of Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who filled in after Scott Thompson resigned in May after a scandal involving his resume inaccuracies. Thompson replaced Interim CEO and current CFO Tim Morse in January.
"I am honored and delighted to lead Yahoo, one of the Internet's premier destinations for more than 700 million users," Mayer stated in a press release. "I look forward to working with the company's dedicated employees to bring innovative products, content and personalized experiences to users and advertisers all around the world."
Yahoo co-founder David Filo said: "Marissa is a well-known, visionary leader in user experience and product design and one of Silicon Valley's most exciting strategists in technology development. I look forward to working with her to enhance Yahoo's product offerings."
Many industry pundits thought that longtime executive Levinsohn would be a shoo-in, but Fred Amoroso, board chairman, praised the company's choice.
"The board of directors unanimously agreed that Marissa's unparalleled track record in technology, design and product execution makes her the right leader for Yahoo at this time of enormous opportunity," he said.