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Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) has been rudderless since May, when CEO Scott Thompson left in a cloud of resume-faking scandal. Interim helmer Ross Levinsohn became Yahoo!'s fourth CEO in a span of eight months, dating back to when Carol Bartz got the boot from a disappointed board.
Well, Levinsohn's days in the captain's chair are over. And this time, the new Chief Yahoo! might actually have a shot at turning this sinking boat around.
Say hello to Marissa Mayer, employee No. 20 when Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) was but a young search-engine pup and Yahoo!'s new CEO.
Mayer is the kind of Silicon Valley superstar whom other companies dream about putting in their executive suites but never get the chance. At Google, she was a leader and a visionary, credited with important moves and design decisions like the uncluttered search interface and the head-turning Gmail service.
This is not quite like luring Tim Cook out of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) when he served as COO under Steve Jobs, but it's close to snagging Cupertino's design guru, Sir Jonathan Ive. This hire is as unexpected as it is promising. After all, Mayer would hardly take the CEO position at a dead-end company. It's a vote of confidence in the online veteran's assets, though I'd expect her to take the business in a dramatically new direction.
If I could tell you exactly what the new strategy will look like, I'd be pulling down seven-figure paychecks in Silicon Valley. But I do expect the Yahoo! empire to grow simpler, tighter, and more elegant in the coming months. That's how Mayer rolls, after all.
Add the stock to your Foolish Watchlist and watch as the company becomes more like the two takes on industrial sophistication espoused by Google and Apple, and less like the fatally sprawling AOL. Marissa Mayer understands that consumers respond to elegant tools and services, and in my mind that could make all the difference.
Yahoo! may have found its CEO for the next decade right here. I have a bullish CAPScall riding on Yahoo!, and I suddenly feel a lot more comfortable with that pick.
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