Kara Swisher

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Yahoo Hires Tim Parsey as Head UX Designer

In an interview BoomTown did yesterday with Yahoo’s Chief Product Officer Blake Irving–the video of which will be posted later today–at the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s HQ in Sunnyvale, CA, he managed to actually give me some news to report: the hire of crackerjack user experience design head Tim Parsey.

Parsey’s title will be SVP of User Experience Design at Yahoo, which is now centralizing the important task, Irving said. Previously, in the 67-ring circus that has been Yahoo’s product organization, design was widely dispersed.

Parsey certainly has the cred in the industry, with stints at Apple, Microsoft’s entertainment and devices unit, Mattel and Motorola. Most recently, he was a principal at a Seattle-based design firm called shiftalliance.

The British native ran Apple’s design studio for five years in the early 1990s and and was the main dude behind Motorola’s freaky V70 switchblade mobile phone in 2001.

Best of all: Parsey was once responsible for Barbie, as you can read below from his bio from shiftalliance, which announced his departure several days ago on its site:

[Tim Parsey] co-founded shiftalliance to focus on higher order value creation in business. The company is built on three beliefs: 1. that higher order, or meaningful, value is the next value driver in mature markets; 2. that sustainable innovation needs to consider the whole business model and; 3. that establishing a people-centric continuous change process is critical for success in today’s markets .

Prior to shiftalliance, he served as Partner, User Experience (UX) Director, Xbox Design at Microsoft, where he led a 22-person team responsible for the design and development of a new technology-enabled paradigm of interaction and entertainment that would not disrupt revenue streams from the existing Xbox gaming platform and contribute to the business in a more strategic way.

Previously, at Mattel as VP, Consumer Products Design, Tim was responsible for the Barbie, Hot Wheels and Fisher Price brands (in all non-toy categories) across 45,000 sku’s contributing nearly $2 billion in revenue worldwide. His charge was to establish the strategic and creative vision, and evolve the culture from a traditional licensing to a ‘leveraged innovation’ and ‘marketed product’ based approach. Key components of this evolution were to establish the first design languages for Mattel brands; lead design innovation for cross-functionally conceived marketing platforms (product, entertainment/web and 360 degree marketing); and nurture the individual licensee businesses and 5,000 designers across the portfolio into a community motivated to share and innovate together, thereby driving the business evolution at an appropriate pace. Before that, as VP, Wheels Design, he led 45 toy designers to advance the Hot Wheels, Matchbox and Pixar CARS toy design businesses. Activities included establishing product and brand design strategies, evolving the toy teams and building the first licensed consumer products design team, all of which led to re-energized business growth. This experience was a planned opportunity to understand toy design and specifically play innovation, and led to the formalization of the first play design methodology for Mattel.

Prior to Mattel, Tim served as Corporate Vice President at Motorola, where he built and led the Consumer Experience Design (CxD) group for the Personal Communications Sector (mobile phones) from an established industrial design team of approximately 22 in the US to a multifunctional design organization of approximately 150 distributed. This journey that included developing design as a competitive advantage for the company began 5 years after the StarTac and led to the design of Razr, the most successful brand and product range to be informed by a design strategy called ‘rich minimalism’. At the time, approximately 100 cell phones a year were being designed with a broad range of derivatives for different markets and carriers. CxD was distributed across Asia, North America and Europe and included Advanced Design and Design Planning groups that fed advanced thinking and strategies into the User Interface, Industrial Design and Human Factors groups. Specific achievements included establishing a collaborative industrial and user interface design methodology with key carriers.

Before that, Tim served as VP, Product Design and Development for ACCO, a manufacturer of office supplies and Manager, Design Studio at Apple after working as staff designer at ID Two (now IDEO) and other leading design consulting firms.

And here is a video of him speaking at a TEDx event about a year ago:


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