Friday, July 20, 2012

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's new CEO (Cupcake Enthusiast/Obsessive)

For over a year now, I've been a regular listener of NPR, beyond just Car Talk and Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me.  I still love these programs of course, but they are like the dessert of public radio, and now I'm also enjoying my tasty veggies.  That might sound like a negative way to view the news, but let's not forget my enthusiasm for spaghetti squash.  So a comparison to vegetables is meant in the best possible sense.

That being said, even in the news, my mind is still on dessert.  More specifically, cupcakes.  Recently, Yahoo pulled of a kind of coup by hiring Marissa Mayer away from Google to be their new CEO.  I'm interested to see what she can do with the company, because she's the brains behind a lot of the Google features that I use everyday.  But what really caught my ear this morning as I was listening to the latest discussion of the move was the casually-included detail that Mayer has been noted for her love of cupcakes.

That's all I need to hear to go Googling.  Maybe after Mayer is done I'll be Yahoo-ing, but for now it's her former employer that I turned to to find this profile, published in 2008.  It's all about the qualities and quirks of a successful woman in Silicon Valley.  But this is all I need to know about Mayer:
Who else in Silicon Valley could report, with absolute seriousness, that she’d recently bought an array of cookbooks to study the cupcake recipes in each, created a spreadsheet for the ingredients, and then tested the recipes before writing her own? (She made another spreadsheet for frosting.)
Cupcakes and spreadsheets?  I love this woman.  Because the only thing that makes butter, sugar, and flour come together better is the excessive organization.  I've made spreadsheets for buying yarn and crafting for swaps, as well as for baking.  This makes me wonder why there's no 'Recipes' tab in Google when you search, like there is for 'News' and 'Images'.

And the application of logic to an ironically irrational level doesn't end there:
Mayer is an eager practitioner of the art herself. “I’ve always loved baking,” she says. “I think it’s because I’m very scientific. The best cooks are chemists.” In addition to creating her famous cupcake and frosting spreadsheets, she has analyzed all of the different paper linings available. “The problem with the silver ones,” she says in utter earnestness, “is that they seal the cupcake. You’ve got to go with the classic paper, which allows the cupcake to breathe.”
Because suffocating your baked goods is a crime, people!

I already knew that I wasn't the only quirky person out there.  The Sarah Lawrence campus was crawling with them, I'm always making friends with them on Ravelry, and heck, this is Austin.  But Mayer is the first example I've seen of this in the high ranks of the corporate world:
In many ways, Mayer is still that geeky, super-normal, enthusiastic girl. So it’s no surprise when we spend hours one day at—where else?—I Dream of Cake in North Beach. Mayer samples a piece of cake and says, “I’m a huge fan of frosting. Vanilla fudge is my favorite. It gives you brain euphoria.”
Granted, Silicon Valley is a little more open to 'brain euphoria' than Wall Street.  But it's still cool to see the kind of unapolagetic enthusiasm that nerdiness displays survive the real world rather than being something you have to grow out of.

Maybe Mayer is to cupcakes as Steve Jobs is to turtlenecks?  Except I don't think Steve really liked those turtlenecks all that much...


  1. I agree, I'm digging the open nerdiness. And there should definitely be a category for recipes, 90% of my googling is for recipes.

  2. The more I think about it, the more surprised I am that there isn't a "recipes' tab. After all, if they can aggregate news articles, recipes should be possible. Because I need more access to recipes... ; )