Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Not All Yahoos Headed Out Door: Mayer Makes Filo a Direct Report and Bell Permanent GC

While new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has ushered some longtime employees out the door of late — most recently, HR head David Windley last week, with more to come — that does not mean she is not keeping some longtime Yahoos around.

At the the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s weekly Friday FYI staff meeting, Mayer told the crowd that Yahoo co-founder David Filo (pictured here) would be reporting directly to her — which I previously suggested would happen — and also that longtime legal exec Ron Bell would become permanent general counsel.

Filo has been an important part of Mayer’s arrival at Yahoo, and was a critical ally in her first days, emerging as a vocal supporter of her appointment from the start.

The typically retiring and taciturn product guru actually gave a quote in a press release, and did interviews when Mayer was hired.

Moving Filo close to her is an important morale booster, because while the founders of Yahoo have their definite ups and downs, as I have previously noted, the heart of the company is still with both Filo and also co-founder Jerry Yang.

Interestingly, he’s actually been reporting for years to a variety of product and tech execs, despite owning more than 6 percent of Yahoo.

The elevation of Bell (pictured here), who was No. 2 to former GC Mike Callahan, is an interesting move. Having been at Yahoo since 1999, after working at Apple, the veteran lawyer played an important role in waging the Facebook patent litigation.

He was named interim GC after Callahan left in late June, by then-interim CEO Ross Levinsohn.

Levinsohn left at the end of July.

We’ll see who else will leave Yahoo this week and next — the fates of a wide range of top execs are in the mix, from CFO Tim Morse to media head Mickie Rosen to sales chief Michael Barrett.

Mayer has been trying to recruit her former Google staffer Katie Jacobs Stanton from Twitter for a big media job. And she has reportedly been making strong efforts to get Barrett — another former advertising exec at the search giant — to stay.

We’ll see about it all soon enough, and also what will happen to Yahoo shares this week.

The stock got pummeled last week, down more than 5 percent on Friday to close at $15.15, after the company revealed in a regulatory filing that there might be a change of plans for the more than $4 billion from the sale of its Alibaba Group stake.

Both Yahoo and one of its biggest shareholders and a director, Dan Loeb of Third Point, had previously said the money would likely be used for a stock buyback, or even a dividend.

Even though Loeb let it leak that he was A-okay with it all, to assuage other angry investors, Mayer will now need to come up with a solid plan for the dough, which could include some acquisitions.

And it might help if she could also perhaps finally land the long-troubled deal to get many more billions from its stake in Yahoo Japan.

While those negotiations have had their ups and downs, it was close to being struck in the summer. But sources said there are still apparently valuation differences.

(I would add comment or no comment from Yahoo, as I do with every other company I cover. But after numerous emails, I am still waiting to hear back from the company’s PR spokeswoman, whom I am sure has just been super busy.)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik