SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gave birth to a boy late Sunday, shining a spotlight on her ability to steer the struggling Internet company in a new direction while adjusting to the challenges of being a first-time mother.
The birth came a week ahead of the Oct. 7 due date that Mayer shared with the public in July. She announced her pregnancy on her social networking accounts just a few hours after Yahoo hired her as its third full-time CEO in less than a year.
The pregnancy news amplified the buzz about Mayer’s defection from Google Inc., where she spent 13 years as a key executive overseeing some of the services that helped to drag down Yahoo.
Yahoo’s decision to anoint a soon-to-be mom as its CEO was hailed as a breakthrough for women seeking to prove men aren’t the only ones who can balance a high-powered executive lifestyle and early parenthood.
The attention surrounding Mayer’s pregnancy and the birth of her child intensifies the pressure as she tries to engineer a long-awaited turnaround at one of the Internet’s best-known companies. Although Yahoo’s website remains one of the Internet’s top destinations, the company’s revenue has fallen in recent years. At the same time, it fell behind online search leader Google and online social networking leader Facebook Inc. in the race to build compelling services and sell more advertising.
The birth of Mayer’s boy comes three weeks before the CEO will share her blueprint for infusing Yahoo Inc. with new life. She plans to make her first extensive public remarks about her strategy in the company’s third-quarter earnings call scheduled for Oct. 22.
Mayer, 37, intends to work from home for a brief period while remaining involved in all key company decisions. She will return to her office at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif. headquarters in one to two weeks, company spokeswoman Anne Espiritu said.
No matter how much Mayer may have prepared for her baby’s arrival, she is likely to be surprised by some of the difficulties that torment working moms, predicted Kim Smith, a partner with Witt/Kieffer, an executive recruitment firm that has worked with other mothers who have time-consuming jobs.
“You can’t chart out what it’s like to be a mom,” Smith said. “The hardest thing to manage is the unforeseen physical and emotional demands that it places on you when you are striving to be in two places at exactly the same time.”
The baby boy and Mayer are doing “great,” according to Twitter post Monday morning by Mayer’s husband, Zack Bogue, a former lawyer turned Silicon Valley capitalist.
The couple hadn’t named the boy as of early Monday. Mayer took some time out early Monday to send out an email to some of her friends and colleagues soliciting suggestions for a name.
“She’s crowdsourcing suggestions for Baby Boy Bogue’s name!” tweeted New York University journalism professor and blogger Jeff Jarvis, one of the recipients of Mayer’s group email “How digital can you get?”
Although she has shared few specifics of her plans for Yahoo, Mayer has indicated she intends to ramp up spending to attract talented employees and burnish Yahoo’s products in an effort to keep Web surfers on the company’s website for longer periods of time. Analysts also believe she may pursue acquisitions with a portion of the $4.3 billion after-tax windfall that Yahoo is getting in exchange for selling half its stake in Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group.
At about the same time Mayer returns to the office, she will start working with a new chief financial officer, Ken Goldman, whose hiring was announced last week. He is replacing Tim Morse, a cost-cutting specialist who apparently no longer fit in with Mayer’s future plans for Yahoo.
Yahoo shares fell 15 cents to close at $15.83. The price has been hovering in $15 to $16 range since Mayer’s hiring.