Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO Talking About Art and Engineering

by | Dec 26, 2014

Original photography by Magnus Höij

Original photography by Magnus Höij

In mid-October, Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, met CEO Marc Benioff for a conversation. What might surprise many people is Mayer’s connection to art and her saying that “art and engineering aren’t that different.”

Benioff pointed out Mayer’s ability to focus on design while combining it with the power of the Internet successfully and when he asked her how come she is doing it Mayer explained why; Her mother is an art teacher who taught her art history while her father is an engineer; her parents’ influence showed Mayer the similarity between art and engineering. These two subjects, she said, were always part of her life and co-existed.

She claimed that when combining design with the power of engineering you are not only creating useful things but also emotional experiences and this, as Benioff said, is what makes Google, Google. (Mayer who joined Google in 1999 as employee number 20 and was the company’s first female engineer is credited for the unique look and feel that has come to characterize the Google experience) .

“Engineering that isn’t beautiful has its drawbacks, and art that isn’t engineered is also less interesting,” Mayer said.

Besides being raised by an art teacher, Mayer is a serious art collector and collects mostly “happy art.” She owns original art by Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein and Sol LeWitt. In the past, she was on the board of the MoMa – the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

This post is an addition to a previous TED Talk by Bran Ferren about the relationship between art and engineering.

Watch Mayer talking about the art, design, and the Internet here. She starts to talk about these subjects from min 14:00.

Read more about the intersection of art and business in our blog

Interested in bringing this perspective into your own company? Check out The Artian’s trainings!


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