How the power players do it - by Fortune senior editor at large Patricia Sellers

Marc Andreessen on Yahoo choosing Mayer as CEO

July 16, 2012: 5:43 PM ET

Here's what venture capitalist Marc Andreessen says about Yahoo's (YHOO) naming Google (GOOG) VP Marissa Mayer as its new CEO: "I'm super happy for Marissa," he told Fortune managing editor Andy Serwer at Fortune Brainstorm Tech this afternoon in Aspen, Colorado.

Andreessen, who is on the boards of Facebook (FB) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), calls Mayer, a 37-year-old Stanford-trained engineer who was Google's employee No. 20, "a product-centered CEO."

If Yahoo had wanted a "sales-centric CEO," he noted, the board would have chosen insider Ross Levinsohn, who has been interim CEO since the board pushed out Scott Thompson earlier this year. Apparently, most Yahoo employees were betting that Levinsohn would secure the top job.

Will Levinsohn stay at Yahoo? The board hopes he does, especially since Yahoo's recent reorganizations have placed many of Levinsohn's followers in senior positions. Retaining Levinsohn will likely require masterful diplomacy by Mayer, who is the youngest woman ever to make Fortune's Most Powerful Women list. She ranked No. 38 on the list last year.

The other big question, of course, is whether Yahoo can be revived following unsuccessful runs by a series of CEOs including Thompson, Carol Bartz and co-founder Jerry Yang. "There have been very few web turnarounds," Andreessen noted, adding that one Silicon Valley turnaround proves it can be done. "Apple showed that tech companies can be turned around…spectacularly," Andreessen said. Though, he added, the highest standard for CEOs, Steve Jobs, is very, very hard to come by.

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About This Author
Pattie Sellers
Pattie Sellers
Senior Editor at Large, Fortune
Executive Director of MPW/Live Content, Time Inc.

Pattie Sellers has written more than 20 Fortune cover stories including "Marissa Mayer: Ready to Rumble at Yahoo," "Muhtar Kent's New Coke," "Oprah's Next Act", "The $100 Billion Woman" (Melinda Gates), and "Gone with the Wind" (Ted Turner). She co-founded Fortune Most Powerful Women and oversees the Fortune MPW Summit, the preeminent gathering of women leaders in business and beyond—and programs such as Fortune MPW Entrepreneurs and the Fortune-U.S. State Department Global Women Leaders Mentoring Partnership. Pattie also develops Live Content across Time Inc. Her blog, Postcards, is about how power players lead and navigate their careers. Pattie won Time Inc.'s prestigious MVP award for her performance in 2012.

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