Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

No Massive Reorg at Yahoo, But More Exec Departures (Plus the Schneider Goodbye Letter)

Sorry, folks, but–despite reports–Yahoo will not be unveiling another new organizational structure this week.

In actuality, the beleaguered Internet giant is just cleaning up from last week’s shake-up–in which it announced that a chunk of its top media and sales leadership was leaving–as well as settling in new hires made in recent months by its relatively new product head, Blake Irving.

In fact, those changes in Irving’s unit have resulted in the departure of two more execs. That would be former SVP of Media Products and Solutions Jeff Kinder and SVP for Cloud Computing Shelton Shugar, who are on their way out.

Kinder actually left his job many weeks ago and was offered the chance to find another within Yahoo (YHOO), although sources said he has now definitely decided to leave the company on his own.

CEO Carol Bartz held a meeting Friday with senior leadership to go over the situation and to assure management that changes to come would stabilize the company going forward.

To be sure, Yahoo needs some kind of reassurance and fast.

BoomTown broke the news last week that U.S. head Hilary Schneider was departing the company (see her goodbye memo below), along with U.S. Audience head David Ko and SVP of Media Jimmy Pitaro.

Pitaro has since landed a big job as co-president of the Internet unit of Disney (DIS).

The overall corporate turmoil has put more scrutiny on Bartz. For two years, she has been trying to turn around the company, with only a modicum of success.

While Bartz did strike a search and online advertising partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) to better battle Google (GOOG), she has not goosed flat revenue nor been able to boost Yahoo’s moribund stock.

Perhaps more critically, she has not stopped the steady exodus of talent, especially of more senior execs.

Departures in the last six months include U.S. advertising sales head Joanne Bradford, Integrated Consumer Experiences SVP Tapan Bhat, CTO Ari Balogh, as well as the heads of its social platform and communications product units.

But last week’s departure trifecta of the execs running Yahoo’s powerful and successful media unit drove the talent drain issue home for many investors and other observers.

While each departure case was different, of course, the leavings have lent a feeling of instability inside and outside the company.

That has happened more quietly over the several months of reshuffling by Irving (pictured here), who came to Yahoo from Microsoft, and which I have reported on here previously several times.

For example, in September, Irving hired Microsoft exec John Matheny to head the communications products and communities unit.

Previous to that, in July, Irving brought in another old colleague from the software giant–Bill Shaughnessy–as SVP of Product Management.

Thus, Irving–who is a little too busy traveling to a number of Yahoo product and technology units in Asia and India over the next weeks to announce yet another reorg–has pretty much already moved his part of the business around, although there are likely to be some more hires to come.

It is not unusual for a new senior exec to do this, of course, but Irving’s many moves reportedly sparked some tension between him and Schneider.

That might have been moot, since she had decided to leave some months ago, but was asked to stay on by Bartz.

To be sure, in recent months, many sources said that their relationship had become strained too as Yahoo ad sales continue to struggle, and they also disagreed on the company’s strategic direction.

Still, it should be noted that Schneider is staying on until a new exec is named to replace her.

Whatever the various machinations in the corporate suite at Yahoo, Bartz needs to find a way to convince Wall Street that she still has the ability to complete her much touted turnaround of the Silicon Valley pioneer to a new period of growth and innovation.

How quickly she is doing that will come into sharp relief in a few weeks when Yahoo reports its third-quarter earnings on October 19.

And while executive departures garner a lot of attention, that is the bottom line for Yahoo, the thing most important of all to watch.

Finally, given I love a good internal memo, here is, belatedly, the email that Schneider sent to her staff last week about her leaving:


I’m sure by now you’ve all had a chance to read Carol’s note, and know that I made the decision to move on to the next stage of my career. When I joined Yahoo! four years ago, I knew it would be an amazing and rich experience…and it has exceeded every expectation. Our consumers look to Yahoo! as they navigate their lives, our advertisers look to Yahoo! for leadership, and publisher looks to Yahoo! for our amazing scale and reach. Our team, however, is our secret weapon!

Meanwhile, the search for my successor is under way and I will continue to lead our team until we make the transition.

Additionally. David Ko, SVP of Audience and Mobile, and Jimmy Pitaro, VP of North America Media, have decided to leave Yahoo! David and Jimmy are amazing leaders and we will miss them. Yahoo!’s leadership positions in Sports, News, Entertainment, Finance and Mobile are their legacy that we have to proudly continue.

Raymond Stern will be the SVP of North America Audience and will be responsible for the Audience teams. Raymond has been an integral part of Americas leadership team as the SVP of Business Development and Partnerships. Before joining Yahoo! a year ago, he held a wide range of business leadership positions, including more than 10 years as a Partner the Boston Consulting Group where he ran the Technology and Media Practice on the west coast. He also held senior leadership roles at Intuit, including CMO.

Raymond will immediately start diving in to the Audience business, and David and Jimmy are committed to working with Raymond through the transition. Right now, Raymond will continue overseeing the business development and partnership teams while we think through the best structure for these teams moving forward.

I know that transitions can create swirl–but our customers, both consumer and marketers, are looking to us for continued leadership…and I know we can deliver this.

You are Yahoo!’s magic, and I thank you for your tremendous commitment, leadership, and support.


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— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo