Max Levchin: Mayer made "very ballsy move" becoming CEO

Steven Loeb · December 14, 2012 · Short URL:

PayPal co-founder explains why he took position at Yahoo's board of directors

After it was announced Thursday that PayPal co-founder, and former CTO, Max Levchin was joining the Yahoo board of directors, Levchin wrote a blogpost, which explains the reasons that he made the decision to join the board.

There were three different factors that Levchin cites for making his ultimate decision: personal, business and sentimental.

For the personal reason, Levchin says that he has “long respected” Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, citing her “talent and tenacity,” and called her decision to take the role of CEO “a very ballsy move.”

Indeed, Mayer did step into a messy situation when she took the job. She was named as CEO in July, following the resignation of CEO Scott Thompson, after a resume fudging scandal, where it came out that Thompson had lied about degrees he had received as an undergraduate, ended his time as CEO in early May after only four months on the job.

“When she asked for my help, I was excited about working with her,” Levchin said.

For the business side of the decision, he said that Yahoo, “with its tremendous resources is a massive net-positive for the Silicon Valley ecosystem, the market in general, and the US economy.”

It is the sentimental reason, though, where Levchin really makes it clear why he wanted to join the board at Yahoo.

The company, he said, was one of the “first true giants” created by the Web. Before Google, before Facebook, he said, all the way back in 1993, Yahoo was there, in one form or another. And, as a computer science major in the early 90s, Yahoo gave him "a glimpse into the fantastic future we are now living."

"Yahoo! showed me that computer geeks can start companies that create that future. I’d love to do my part in helping the company that inspired me,” Levchin wrote.

Mayer, for her part, seems to have as much respect for Levchin as he does for her.

"Max is someone I've admired throughout my career for his phenomenal sense for great products and keen focus on user experiences," Mayer said of Levchin in a statement Thursday. "I'm confident that his strong product and technology expertise will be a tremendous asset to Yahoo as we work to transform the world's daily habits."

In addition to the news that Levchin would be joining the board, it was also announced that The Weather Channel’s David Kenny and Intuit’s Brad Smith would be stepping down from the board “in order to focus on their respective companies, effective immediately,” giving Yahoo a total of 11 directors.

Besides being co-founder and CTO at PayPal, Max Levchin also served as VP of engineering at Google after its acquired personal media network Slide. Levchin left in August 2011, when Google decided to kill Slide altogether. Levchin was also the first investor in Yelp.

Levchin also serves as chairman of the boards at Kaggle and Yelp and is a director at Evernote.

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Slide is the largest personal media network in the world, reaching 144 million unique global viewers each month and more than 30 percent of the U.S. Internet audience. We help people express themselves and tell stories through personalized photos and videos created on and viewed anywhere on the web or desktop.

Slide's products — including Slideshows, FunWall and SuperPoke! — are popular on top social networking and blog platforms, including MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Tagged and Blogger. Slide is also the leading developer on Facebook with more than 84 million applications installed and the most active users than any other developer.

Launched in 2005 and founded by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin, Slide is backed by Mayfield Fund, Blue Run Ventures, Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund.


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