Walmart Taps Google Executive Marissa Mayer for Its Board

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Marissa MayerIf Walmart (WMT) has its way, its board will be a little Googlicious later this year.

The world's leading retailer is nominating Google's (GOOG) Marissa Mayer to join the company's board of directors.

Mayer, vice president of Location and Local Services at Google, is one of the dot-com giant's most visible executives. She stands out in Silicon Valley, where male executives dominate the landscape.

"We are on the cusp of a massive transformation in the way people shop in our increasingly connected world," Walmart Chairman Robson Walton says. "Marissa's insights and expertise in the technology and consumer areas are valuable assets to Walmart as we move forward."

Teaching an Old Economy Company Some New Economy Tricks

Walmart isn't necessarily behind the times. After a couple of false starts several years ago, Walmart.com has become a thriving hotbed of online activity.

However, this doesn't mean that Walmart's board is beyond being shaken up a bit. The 15-member board consists primarily of seasoned investing professionals, college professors, and retired executives. It's not that the board lacks Internet experience, but Mayer will certainly be able to offer a fresh perspective from the front line. As one of Google's earliest hires, Mayer has seen the transformative power of cyberspace firsthand.

Name-Dropping on Wall Street

Visible executives from successful online companies are attractive board appointments, giving old economy companies at least the illusion that they're responding to the Internet's emergence.

Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings sits on the board of Microsoft (MSFT).

Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) turned heads in 2007 when it added then Yahoo! (YHOO) CFO Susan Decker to its board. There was even talk of Decker eventually taking over for Warren Buffett, though she's no longer mentioned on the short list of potential successors.


Walmart can certainly use the new economy pedigree. This is the same company that shuttered a poorly conceived "back to school" social networking hub just weeks after it went live a few years ago. This was around the same time that Walmart was blasted for sponsoring a travel blog that gushed favorably about the joys of RV parking at Walmart.

Walmart's learned plenty since those initial mistakes. Hopefully with Mayer on board, the discounter is about to learn even more.

Mayer also threw Walmart a bone by revealing that she's a longtime customer. If that doesn't help Walmart narrow the "cheap chic" gap with Target (TGT), I guess we'll have to wait for snapshots to prove it.

"Walmart is an amazing story of entrepreneurship and, as one of the world's most powerful brands, touches millions of lives every day," Mayer says. "I look forward to contributing to Walmart's continued growth, success, and innovation in the years to come."

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Yahoo!, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway, Walmart Stores, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walmart Stores, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Netflix, Google, and Berkshire Hathaway. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and creating a diagonal call position in Walmart Stores.



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Indi

I am sorry, but Ms. Meyer has been over-hyped throughout her career, though primarily through her own PR management. Her inability to rise to a position of power within Google (was passed over for CEO and every other significant leadership position within the company) has demonstrated her inability to lead. She's great at PR and marketing herself, and has successfully crafted a persona as a "Woman Leader in Tech" even though many other more successful women pre-date her (Whitman, Fiorina, Sandberg) and significantly eclipse her experience and so-called success. Wal-Mart is either buying this hype or filling a token position with Ms. Meyer as many other accomplished women would be better picks and add much more value to the company.

April 19 2012 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply