Unless you were totally off the grid in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the past few days, you surely know by now that Yahoo! has named former Google exec Marissa Mayer as its new CEO.
But what you may not know is that two of our fellow MInnesota techies have ties to her, going back years -- they're both friends of mine, and both have been startup clients of my consulting business.
One is Lief Larson (right), founder of Workface Inc., a venture-backed firm doing cool things to humanize business on the web.
The other is Joe Sriver, who in 2008 founded the highly successful mobile app development firm DoApp Inc. (where, in addition to serving as an advisor, I was interim VP of marketing for a time).
Lief went all through school with Marissa in Wausau, Wisconsin, where both of them showed an early interest in programming. He gave me this reaction to the news:
"Yahoo! is ripe for reinvention, and I think Marissa is just the woman for the job. The one piece of news that came as a bit of a surprise is that she's pregnant and will be taking maternity leave in October, just three months after taking the helm. I look forward to seeing what the next several months will hold for Yahoo!"
Joe's connection to Marissa came later -- he was hired by her in 2001 as Google employee #198. (She was Google employee #20, its first female engineer.) Joe was Google's first UI designer and worked for Marissa for some years, directly involved in such early products as AdSense and AdWords. Here's what Joe had to say when I asked for his reaction to Marissa's new role:
"I was surprised by the announcement, as it sounds many others were. A pleasant surprise, that is. I feel she's the best person in the Valley to bring Yahoo back -- the best pick Yahoo could make. She has a great technical background, superb at driving products, and has a great marketing sense. She's not an outsider, she knows the space well...exactly what Yahoo needs at the top. She will create a buzz around Yahoo. The analysts will be watching her moves closely, but she's prepared."
Of course, the tech community is almost universally supportive of this decision by the Yahoo! board -- why wouldn't they like the choice of a technology exec to lead the turnaround? Anything but an exec from the screwed-up media industry, huh?
I'm with Lief and Joe -- I think Marissa is bound to bring some mojo back to $YHOO!