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New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gives liberal arts grads hope

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Marissa Mayer speaks during an announcement in San Francisco, California. She says verbal skills are just as important as math ability for future programmers.

Marissa Mayer, the new, 37-year-old CEO of Yahoo, is a computer scientist through and through. She graduated from Stanford and was officially Google employee number 20. Okay, so maybe she doesn't program day-to-day anymore. But she's a reliable source of insight about the craft. 

Or is it an art? A liberal art? Here she is in a Daily Beast interview, talking about what makes a good programmer:

“One of the more interesting things they’ve found is that programming aptitude and excellence is more tied to verbal SAT scores than to math SAT scores,” she explained. “Beyond basic mathematical aptitude, the difference between good programmers and great programmers is verbal ability.”

Interesting. And maybe something the hardcore programmer community, with their all-night hackathons, doesn't want to hear. Could it be that Mayer is a more radical chief executive, in terms of how she thinks about preparation for the Silicon Valley life, than we've been led to think?

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New CEO Marissa Mayer is a huge hire for Yahoo

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

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Marissa Mayer speaks onstage at the FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City. The 37-year-old was named CEO of Yahoo today.

One thing's for sure about newly named Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: no one will question the Stanford computer science grad's credentials, as they ultimately did those of Mayer's predecessor, Scott Thompson, who had exaggerations in his resume that were revealed by activist Yahoo shareholder Dan Loeb earlier this year.

Mayer actually ups the ante on engineering cred: the 37-year-old was Google's first female engineer, as well as one of the first 20 employees hired (she was in fact number 20). She can't, however, repeat that achievement in the Yahoo C-suite: she follows Carol Bartz (ousted last September) as the second woman to hold the top job.

This move has taken the tech world by surprise ("shock" might be a better word). It was widely expected interim CEO Ross Levinsohn would get the nod, given that he seemed to have Loeb's support. In this respect, the naming of Mayer is earth-shattering, and it comes on the heels of rumors that she had been passed over for advancement at Google, even though she had been standing in for co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at public events and in the media. Mayer ranks right alongside Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg as powerful women in Silicon Valley go.

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Yahoo CEO's explanation for resumegate isn't that implausible

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Yahoo!'s Santa Monica location. CEO Scott Thompson now says he was never asked for his resume before he was hired.

Here's the latest on the battle between Dan Loeb of hedge fund Third Point and the Yahoo board over whether Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson has been trading on exaggerated educational credentials: Thompson says...he never provided a resume before he was hired!

This is from DealBook:

Mr. Thompson’s likely argument is that while he met with representatives for Yahoo’s board during the hiring process late last year, he never submitted a résumé. That leaves open the question of how the erroneous computer science degree was incorporated into his record.

The nonexistent degree began to appear in his corporate biography at PayPal, the eBay division that he led until accepting the Yahoo job. But a review of eBay’s securities filings shows that the company correctly noted that Mr. Thompson held only an accounting degree.

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Yahoo resumegate: Patti Hart is off the board

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Yahoo!'s Santa Monica location. Board member Patti Hart won't run for re-election.

Backstory: Dan Loeb, a hedge funder who runs Third Point, wants to take over a chunk of the Yahoo board, make management changes, and above all else NOT sell off Alibaba, the Asian e-commerce site that Yahoo owns 40 percent of.

The board rebuffed him, questioning his qualifications, after offering only two seats to Loeb's demand for four and saying that he couldn't have one of them. He fired back a letter revealing that Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson had misrepresented his academic record, claiming a computer science degree he never received. The Yahoo board member who oversaw the vetting of Thompson, Patti Hart, was also revealed to have fudged her degrees.

So now Hart will be leaving the Yahoo board, a position worth $80,000 a year, but with extras thrown in for serving on various committees, plus stock grants. Here's Kara Swisher, blind-sourcing the heck out of the news:

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Did Dan Loeb use the media to make his case against Yahoo CEO?

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Yahoo!'s Santa Monica location. Activist shareholder Dan Loeb has fired another salvo in his ongoing battle to change the company's management.

Dan Loeb, the swashbuckling hedge funder who's trying to remake Yahoo's board of directors and, while he's at it, get Yahoo to jettison its CEO, has just upped the ante yet again. And he's done it, in typical Dan Loeb fashion, with an ancient means of communication. No, I don't mean a stone tablet or dispatch carried by Pheidippidian messenger over great distance. I mean a letter. Printed on paper and delivered, the letter itself says, by "Federal Express and Hand Delivery." 

You half expect Loeb to revive the Pony Express at this point! This is all starting to feel like a novel by Laclos.

But I kid. Here's the top part:

Third Point LLC sent Yahoo! a demand today pursuant to Section 220(b) of the Delaware General Corporation Law to inspect books and records relating to the hiring of CEO Scott Thompson, the appointment of Patti Hart to the Yahoo! Board, and the selection of Board Members Peter Liguori, John Hayes, Thomas McInerney, Maynard Webb, Jr., and Fred Amoroso. A copy of Third Point’s demand is attached below.

Third Point believes that Yahoo! shareholders and employees will be best served if the Board accepts responsibility quickly for this latest debacle. If the Directors are truly interested in “working in a constructive manner with Third Point”, they should provide answers promptly. We believe that this internal investigation by this Board must not be conducted behind a veil of secrecy and shareholders deserve total transparency.

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