Kara Swisher

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Another Yahoo Loves Group Buying, As Top Ad Sales Exec Mitch Spolan Heads to LivingSocial

Yahoo has lost another one of its top advertising sales execs, Mitch Spolan, to a hot start-up of the moment–this time to LivingSocial.

The move by Yahoo’s head of North American field sales is the second major loss by the Silicon Valley Internet portal to a social buying site. Another Yahoo sales lead, Lee Brown, left Yahoo late last year to head sales at Groupon.

Spolan–who is a long time Yahoo sales exec, having survived a myriad of new bosses and management turmoil over his dozen years there–will become SVP of national sales at the Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial.

In an interesting irony, he will be competing directly with Brown, who used to work for Spolan at Yahoo, in the red-hot online local discounting space.

Another irony: For the first time in 12 years, Spolan will be missing Yahoo’s national sales meeting, which is next week and where his latest boss, U.S. head Ross Levinsohn, will be selling the troops on the changes he will be making to revitalize the company’s advertising business.

Here’s the official press release:

LivingSocial Expands Executive Team Appointing Former Yahoo! Executive to Senior Vice President of National Sales

Local Commerce Leader Appoints Mitch Spolan to Build Out Team, Helping Merchants Nationwide Leverage the Powerful LivingSocial Platform

Washington D.C., March 8, 2011–LivingSocial, the online source for people to find handpicked experiences at a great value, today announces the continued expansion of its executive team with the appointment of Mitch Spolan to senior vice president of national sales. Spolan will lead development of LivingSocial’s national accounts and will expand the nationwide team to work with advertisers and marketers to better leverage LivingSocial’s powerful marketing platform. Additionally, he will focus on creating new opportunities to monetize LivingSocial’s assets through innovative, consumer-friendly advertising models.

“We are very excited to have Mitch join the senior executive team. Mitch’s extensive experience developing new online advertising opportunities and working with top marketers will help accelerate national brands’ adoption of the powerful LivingSocial platform,” said Eric Eichmann, chief operating officer of LivingSocial. “His hands-on approach, creativity and technological know-how will play an integral role in helping LivingSocial build upon its leadership position in the local commerce space. “

Spolan brings more than a decade of media sales experience to his position as LivingSocial’s senior vice president of national sales with the majority of his professional tenure residing with Yahoo!. Most recently he served as Yahoo!’s vice president of North American field sales, where he led his team to grow revenue and share with Fortune 500 clients by redefining creative opportunities. Spolan began his career as an architect and moonlighted as CEO of Innovation Solutions, an interactive advertising agency he founded specializing in creative design, media buying and planning for small businesses across the country.

“I’ve been following the group buying space from its beginning, both from an industry perspective and as a consumer myself. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to see a new industry born,” said Spolan. “LivingSocial has created a new medium where both marketers and consumers are big winners. I look forward to continuing to innovate on this incredibly powerful marketing platform as LivingSocial continues to dominate the local commerce space.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald