Kara Swisher

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Another One Bites the Dust at Yahoo: Chief Technologist Sam Pullara Departs for Benchmark

Yahoo Chief Technologist Sam Pullara (pictured here) is leaving the company to become an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital.

He’s the second major exec to leave Yahoo (YHOO) for greener pastures in a week.

Yahoo’s head of North American Revenue, Joanne Bradford–in charge of the company’s key advertising business–quit Monday to take a top job at social media start-up Demand Media.

In addition, longtime Yahoo tech exec Ash Patel finally left Yahoo for good, which is what BoomTown said was likely in a post about his taking a sabbatical from the company back in November.

After hearing that Pullara is also leaving, BoomTown inquired about his departure earlier in the week and got a call from Yahoo PR today confirming the move.

“Sam Pullara is leaving Yahoo! to pursue a new venture at Benchmark Capital as an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence). His last day will be April 1st. In his time at Yahoo! Sam made many valuable contributions to our business, helping guide important corporate and business strategy projects and nurturing several technology initiatives. We wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors.”

Pullara is a major tech exec at Yahoo, having run its platforms unit, among other key initiatives.

He also made a statement:

My time at Yahoo! has been a great personal and professional experience. With the social strategy and business development projects I’ve been focusing on now in their implementation phase, and my pet technology project, YQL, now widely deployed both inside and outside of Yahoo!, it’s a natural time for me to transition and spend time with my family before returning to my entrepreneurial roots. I’m leaving Yahoo! with no doubt that the company is on the right track and in good hands.

Well, if you say so, Sam.

Unfortunately, there will be more departures to come from Yahoo, said multiple sources throughout the company, many of whom are key and innovative execs whom Yahoo can ill afford to lose.

Such as Pullara. On his LinkedIn page, Pullara wrote of his role at the Internet giant:

“My current role is within the product strategy group, acting as chief technologist of Yahoo!. I’m responsible for ensuring the products we develop are competitive and provide compelling customer experiences by driving a dialogue between internal products groups, research and business leaders. I am also responsible for technical evaluations, both internal and external, to drive improvements into our products. In addition I will work closely with our M&A team, champion new technology initiatives, and evangelize Yahoo! technology both inside and outside of Yahoo!.”

Here’s the press release from Benchmark:

Sam Pullara Joins Benchmark Capital as Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Menlo Park, CA, March 19, 2010–Benchmark Capital, an early-stage technology venture capital firm, today announced that Sam Pullara has joined the firm as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Pullara was most recently at Yahoo! as Chief Technologist, where he was responsible for Yahoo!’s product and technology strategy across the organization. In addition to his time at Yahoo!, Pullara has spent a significant part of his career building successful start-up companies.

“I am very excited to work with Benchmark Capital, and with Peter Fenton again,” said Pullara. “It is an amazing time to be starting a new venture and advising great entrepreneurs. Working closely with exceptional investors and advisors who are deeply committed to the entrepreneur’s success was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

In addition to crafting corporate technology strategy at Yahoo!, Pullara was also involved in M&A and strategic partnership activity while still remaining an active coder. Before Yahoo!, Pullara was CEO of Gauntlet Systems which was acquired by Borland in 2006. Gauntlet Systems was founded while Pullara was an EIR at Accel Partners. Gauntlet was the outgrowth of Pullara’s experience as an engineer at WebLogic, Inc. where he was an early employee and later at BEA Systems after it acquired WebLogic in 1998. Sam is also an active angel investor and startup advisor.

“Sam is one of the few people who can blend deep technical ability with an uncanny business perspective,” said Peter Fenton, general partner, Benchmark Capital. “He’s one of the most talented people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, and we’re thrilled to have him on board at Benchmark.”

And, for your weekend enjoyment, here’s a video of the most supreme Freddie Mercury of Queen singing “Another One Bites the Dust,” which is, unfortunately, turning into Yahoo’s theme song again:


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work