Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Yahoo Social Platforms Head Neal Sample Departs for eBay

In yet another major departure from Yahoo in recent days, Yahoo VP for Social Platforms Neal Sample has left the company for eBay (EBAY), where he will be the chief of the e-commerce giant’s architecture.

After being contacted by me after I’d heard about his departure from several Yahoo (YHOO) staffers, Sample confirmed the move but did not provide other details. His email to staff is below.

A Yahoo spokesperson also confirmed Sample’s leaving.

It was less than a week ago that Yahoo Communications Products Head Jason Titus also left the company.

Sample’s move is another blow to Yahoo’s management team, led by CEO Carol Bartz, given his job as the leader of the Internet giant’s open, social and publishing platforms.

That purview stretched from comments to Answers to status updates and, of course, to Yahoo’s recent move to integrate social networks such as Facebook and Twitter deeply into the service.

Sample and his colleagues were behind the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s late-to-the-social-party strategy of employing an all-inclusive hug of every social networking service globally and providing users with a kind of social dashboard that is understandable amid all the noise.

From: Neal Sample
Sent: Thursday, August 26, 2010 10:59 AM
To: XXX
Cc: XXX
Subject: Moving on

Team–

It is with mixed emotions that I tell you that I am moving on to become VP of Architecture at eBay. I’ll be taking on a larger role and taking on new challenges and opportunities. I’ll be leaving early next month and am working hard to ensure a smooth transition. Jay and team are already searching for a new permanent leader.

Needless to say, my time at Yahoo! has been full of adventure, technical achievements and a lot fun with great, smart people. My decision to leave was not an easy one. We’ve made significant progress over the last six years, particularly related to the advancements of our Social and Open platforms and I know many good things will continue to come out of this team.

As many of you know, I went to college in Wyoming where I learned one thing that’s been more important than anything else: how to shake hands. There’s a lot of handshaking that goes on there, so you get good at it! I’ve explained to a few folks that you even wave to other people in cars in Wyoming (perhaps because there’s a good chance one of you will pull the other out of a snow bank one day!).

In the 90s, I started a PhD at Stanford and experienced an immediate cultural disconnect. Seemingly no one in California shook hands or even said “hello” as they passed on the sidewalk. It was strange.

A little over six years ago, I was looking for a new work home. I knew that I needed a workplace loaded with good people and Yahoo! fit that bill. On my first interview, I was recruited by a friend from elementary school (Mark!), bumped into someone I’d bought a foosball table from a couple years before (Vikram!), and met a future boss, a long-time Yahoo! with outstanding character and a great handshake (JV!). It was a great fit: good folks, good work, and plenty of new hands to shake.

I leave present and future Yahoos with this: shake more hands! Get out there and press the flesh. Learn the names of your fellow Yahoos, all of them. Invite them to coffee and introduce them to your favorite baristas. It helps to know who is on the other end of that email, who to go to in getting things done, and who’s available for a session of mid-afternoon stress-relief (aka, foosball).

I’ve got some new hands to shake, but I won’t ever forget yours.

Best,
–neal

And here is a video interview I did with Sample in June, right after the integration with Facebook was complete:


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle