Kara Swisher

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Can She Land a Big One? Yahoo’s Mayer About to Hook Google Sales Exec De Castro for Top Role.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has intensified efforts to hire one of Google’s top advertising execs, Henrique De Castro, for a top job at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources said he could be named as COO or have a leading role in its advertising and media units.

Both Mayer and also former Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson have made previous overtures to nab De Castro. But he has so far stayed at the search giant, where he has held a number of high-level jobs across the globe, including at DoubleClick, in display and with major partners.

In fact, after reports surfaced several months ago here and elsewhere that Mayer was interested in him, De Castro told his staff at Google that he was not leaving.

That does appear to be the case now, according to numerous sources.

This past week, De Castro canceled a major offsite for his employees, and several attendees who know him well said he was not present at the company’s first night of its annual Zeitgeist event for advertising and publishing clients. The suave De Castro is usually a more noticeable fixture at such gatherings.

When reached last night, De Castro said he would be attending Zeitgeist, but declined to comment further.

One interesting note: Mayer has not been successful so far in her attempts to pry any significant or high-profile digital execs from other tech companies, adding only lower-level or less well-known execs to her stable of talent since she was appointed in July.

For example, she has tried to hire former Google and Yahoo exec Katie Jacobs Stanton for a top media job, but it appears as though Stanton is staying put for now at her current job as international markets head at Twitter.

It’s not clear what job De Castro is being considered for at Yahoo, but sources said it is a major position.

But whatever it is, it is likely to be in conflict with current head of revenue Michael Barrett. De Castro and Barrett worked together at Google and multiple sources said the pair were not exactly copacetic with each other — which is a nice way of saying there is some friction.

It might not matter. While Barrett has publicly said he planned to stay at Yahoo under Mayer — he was hired by interim CEO Ross Levinson this summer before she arrived — many sources said he does not want to be at the company for the long term.

“Henrique being hired would give him the out he wants,” said one person.

In addition, sources added that he and most of the advertising and media leadership at Yahoo have had little interaction with the new CEO since she arrived this summer, as Mayer has focused on engineering and cultural issues at Yahoo.

Presumably, Mayer would pay more attention to her own hire and that De Castro could take up that role. She has already hired several Googlers, although most were not senior execs or as high-ranking as De Castro, if he does end up moving there.

The Portugal-born De Castro, who speaks a menu of languages, had previously been president of media, mobile and platforms worldwide at Google. He is now in charge of publisher relationships at the company, which has been rejiggering its sales organization, as president of partner business worldwide.

Before Google, De Castro worked at Dell and also McKinsey.

That would make him a perfect choice for Mayer, who is also a former Googler, since she has been considering purchasing a range of companies in the advertising tech space. The most likely candidate of late is PubMatic, which has been in talks with Yahoo about being acquired.

The Silicon Valley company would be a solid add to Yahoo’s ad platform offerings, especially if it wants to stay competitive with Google. PubMatic helps publishers effectively manage their display ad inventory, and competes with Google’s AdMeld.

(Ironically, Barrett ran that start-up, which he sold to Google for $400 million about a year ago.)

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle