Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

New CEO’s Pregnancy Was Not an Issue for Yahoo Board

In weighing the selection of Marissa Mayer as its new CEO, sources close to the board of Yahoo said that it did not consider or even discuss the fact that she had informed them — as part of the process — that she is currently pregnant.

The issue is an interesting one, since she will be one of the first tech CEOs appointed who is having a baby relatively soon after she has taken on what is a very difficult job in turning around the troubled Silicon Valley Internet giant.

Many male CEOs have children while running companies, of course, which some feel is the same situation.

And, of course, Mayer’s capabilities as a CEO have nothing to do with whether she has kids or not, but the subject of gender has been a big topic of discussion and debate in tech of late.

And while it should go without saying that personal issues should not make a difference, they often can and do.

Not by the Yahoo board, apparently, which weighed only Mayer’s techie credentials in selecting her.

“It was not part of the consideration,” said one person close to the situation about the former Google exec. “Like every other professional woman, she has to weigh all the factors in doing her job and having a family.”

That said, Mayer’s pregnancy puts into sharp relief the issues around women’s leadership in tech. As the new CEO of Yahoo, she is now one of the most prominent execs in the digital realm, joining both Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.

Sandberg has two small children and has talked publicly about the difficulty of juggling a family with a demanding job. Whitman’s children are adults, but she ran eBay when they were younger and has also discussed those challenges in raising them while leading a large company.

The baby will be Mayer’s first and several sources said she is due in the fall.

I tried several times to reach Mayer for comment earlier in the day about the issue, but she did not reply. That said — in an apparent (and vain) attempt to show me what’s what and good luck with that — she did confirm her pregnancy to Fortune magazine tonight.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik