Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

New Yahoo Audience Head Jeff Dossett Speaks!

Here’s my favorite quote from former Microsoft exec Jeff Dossett from a phone interview he gave to BoomTown this afternoon, after his appointment as Yahoo’s new U.S. Audience head:

“Where others see risk, I see opportunity,” said the man who has climbed Mount Everest twice. “We have this great Web asset … and, from here on out, it is all about execution.”

(Speaking of which, the photo above of Dossett is on the summit of Everest, taken by one of his TEAM INSPIRED climbing partners, David Morton, on May 22, 2008.)

You can tell from the gumption in this ain’t-no-mountain-high-enough sentiment that Dossett just got to Yahoo (YHOO) and sees a challenge at the troubled Internet giant where others see, well, a long-running quagmire.

I like him already!

“If you take a look at it, Yahoo has so many incredible assets,” said Dossett, who is replacing Yahoo Media Group SVP Scott Moore, whose departure from Yahoo was reported here first today. “There is an unparalleled level of audience to build on.”

You won’t get an argument from me on that obvious fact, because amazing content and communications assets have always been Yahoo’s crown jewels.

It’s the management–or lack thereof–of its products and staff by Yahoo’s leadership and board that’s been the problem.

So it is probably a good idea that Yahoo has brought in new blood to shake things up more. Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang has been looking outside the company of late to recruit outside talent.

Dossett was one of these execs, as I had written a month ago in a post titled “The Secret Microsoft Invasion of Yahoo Continues: MSN GM Headed There Soon?”

With its stock in the perpetual doldrums, the graphical advertising business outlook glum and a lucrative search ad deal with Google (GOOG) trapped in a Justice Department lockbox, the company could use someone to rattle its cages.

In the interview, Dossett (pictured here) acknowledged that he had been speaking to Yahoo U.S. head Hilary Schneider about a range of jobs related to business development. But when Moore told Schneider he was leaving, “We both thought I might be able to play a larger role.”

Dossett said that he hoped to be able to continue to keep Yahoo the No.1 or No. 2 content destination over a range of categories and also push forward more integration with Yahoo technology offerings such as email, calendar and others popular consumer tools the company has.

“There is a tremendous need to integrate … to create the largest and most engaged online audience,” he said. “It all still needs to be stitched together.”

Well, it has not exactly been a very successful quilting bee as yet. Yahoo has continued to struggle to make a more seamless offering to meet the changing needs of consumers, many of whom have been moving more toward more integrated social-networking experiences like those offered by Facebook.

“There is so much more we can do,” said Dossett. “We have only really scratched the surface to combine what we have.”

Dossett, who said his departure from Microsoft (MSFT) was cordial, would not comment on what a combination of Yahoo with the assets of Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL would look like though.

Yahoo and AOL have been engaged in long-running talks about a merger, a new company in which Dossett would now play a large role, if a deal was ever to be struck.

It will be a big challenge that will surely test Dossett, a longtime and experienced mountain climber, who has spent much of his career at Microsoft.

That includes during the period over the last year in which the software giant was trying to take over Yahoo without being too polite about it.

In his job at MSN, Dossett was the lead for audience, content and programming strategy and execution in the U.S.

He had worked at Microsoft since 1991, in a variety of sales and marketing jobs in Canada, and later worked on strategy and business development for MSN.

Dossett was also CEO of Carpoint, now MSN Autos, and was GM of its real estate arm.

At Yahoo, he joins another former Microsoft big shot and close colleague, Joanne Bradford, who started her job as Yahoo’s top U.S. ad sales exec last month.

Dossett also took two years off from Microsoft in 2002 to climb the highest mountains on each of the seven continents, finally reaching the summit of Everest in May of 2004.

Dossett reached the summit again for a second time this past May.

Somehow, I think he will find the air at Yahoo just as thin.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik