Kara Swisher

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Yahoo's Bartz Shuffles the Exec Deck, Filling Audience and Other Top Slot; Is the Board Next for a Makeover?

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Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is making the most substantive changes in her exec ranks since she did a massive restructuring of its staff in late February, according to sources close to the situation.

“She is continuing to clean the place up,” said one top exec about the moves, which are likely to be announced internally tomorrow.

Among the shifts in management will be filling the slot left by the departure of North American Audience head Jeff Dossett in May.

UPDATE: Sources say Yahoo’s head of mobile, David Ko, will get the job of top Audience exec, although it is not clear if he will have the same portfolio has former media heads at Yahoo.

Since Dossett left, his job has been split between Jimmy Pitaro, who runs Vertical Audience Experiences, and Tim Mayer, who is in charge of Search & Social Applications. They both currently report to U.S. EVP Hilary Schneider.

The job of Audience head is a key role, given that Yahoo’s powerful media properties are among its most valuable assets. In recent months, Yahoo has made some major changes in the way it creates its juggernaut News property.

Also to be filled is the job being done by Corporate Partnership SVP Jim Schinella, who, as BoomTown previously reported, is set to leave at the end of the year.

I could not determine who will take Schinella’s job, inside or out.

Interestingly, Yahoo has yet to name an international head.

Sources said the company had filled the position, using a headhunter, but the London-based media exec candidate backed out at the last minute. That meant Yahoo had to restart its search.

There might also be other top exec changes, all part of Bartz’s consolidation of power at Yahoo. She has named a spate of new top execs from outside, but has also kept some from the regime of former CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang.

These staffing moves have come even as a stream of execs continued to depart the Silicon Valley Internet giant, including, most recently, Mike Walrath, who was SVP of advertising strategy. Walrath had led Right Media, the online ad exchange Yahoo bought for $680 million in 2007.

Walrath was widely expected to leave Yahoo in July, at the completion of his earnout from the acquisition, sources said, so the move was more sudden than expected internally.

Sources noted that Bartz moved Walrath’s departure forward in order to announce a new strategy for Right Media focused on premium publishers and to dump those ad networks and publishers of lesser ilk.

Whether this will stop the competitive onslaught in the ad exchange space is an open question given that Google has entered the fray significantly and that Facebook is widely expected to bolster its efforts.

Lastly, several sources said that there are also likely to be more changes on Yahoo’s board, which has seen the departure of two members recently.

In September, Maggie Wilderotter said she would leave the board by year’s end. And former Yahoo nemesis and investor Carl Icahn left the board in late October.

Whether Yahoo will replace them or keep its current size of 10 directors is not clear.

Also possible, several sources said, would be Bartz taking the chairman title, which is currently held by Roy Bostock. Bostock, along with Yang, played a key role in its botched takeover battle with Microsoft (MSFT).

Bartz finally successfully struck a sweeping search and advertising partnership with the software giant this summer, which is moving closer to being launched.


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo