Cake and Madonna, with Marissa Mayer


Marissa Mayer’s 32nd birthday cake, made by”I Dream of Cake.”

I find Marissa Mayer one of San Francisco’s most intriguing women. The two times I’ve met her have been just brief, silly exchanges — a few words about cake at a party for a side venture of hers, and a little chat about fashion and shopping at the opening of Barney’s — so I don’t know her, but I’m constantly telling people that she (along with dreamy Peter Thiel) represents the future of San Francisco society: smart, worldly, deeply involved in the technology world, but also knowledgeable and supportive of the worlds of art, culture and design.

Because she’s attractive and media friendly, Ms. Mayer increasingly shows up nationally in television and magazines — a fact that seems to irk a certain sector of the Silicon Valley, who would characterise a very businesslike 2-minute appearance on CNBC as exhibitionist. But I can attest, from making queries with some of the leading photographers in San Francisco, that Mayer is not one to jump in front of a camera. While she often attends some of our bigger social events, she’s rarely photographed at them. In fact, the recent article about her in “C” magazine doesn’t even include a new photo — they just used her corporate Google photo.

Oh, did I mention she works at Google? Well she doesn’t just work at Google, she was its 20th employee, joining in 1999 before Google became, you know, $GOOG,000,000,000… You get the picture. Anyhow, there is an interesting look at her history and her role with the company in the new book “Marketing Power Plays,” which is excerpted here.

It’s an excellent piece, in which we learn that Mayer was a high school cheerleader in order to “to smash the image of the airhead cheerleader” (according to her school debate coach), and that the idea for Orkut (Google’s social networking site) was spawned in one of her meetings.

Because the book is about marketing, she gives some insight into her marketing philosophy at Google.

What Mayer thinks will be essential for continued innovation is for Google to keep its sense of fearlessness. “I like to launch [products] early and often. That has become my mantra,” she says. She mentions Apple Computer and Madonna. “Nobody remembers the Sex Book or the Newton. Consumers remember your average over time. That philosophy frees you from fear.”

A tech person who follows Madonna? I am totally into that. So what else is on her radar? That’s what “C” magazine asked in the November issue, and here are some tidbits:

Best of the Web

Mayer’s Tech Arsenal

  • TiVo
  • Apple PowerBook
  • iPhone
  • IBM ThinkPad
  • Google Calendar

Dining/Hanging Out

  • Cafe 150, Mountain View
  • I Dream of Cake, 1351 Grant Avenue, San Francisco
  • Quattro, Palo Alto (“Wonderful pear Bellini.”)
  • The Mountain Winery, Saratoga hills
  • Kepler’s, Menlo Park (“A small local shop, but attracts great authors for events.”)
  • La Belle Day Spa, Palo Alto (“Ask for the ‘quiet area’ where they have massage chairs and foot whirlpools.”)