Kara Swisher

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Draw Something From This: Yahoo’s Design Chief Tim Parsey to Depart


Yahoo’s design chief, the effervescent Tim Parsey, will be leaving his job at the Silicon Valley Internet giant, sources said.

As SVP of User Experience Design at Yahoo, which centralized the task under Parsey, he has been part of a range of redesigns of its major properties, including its homepage, Flickr photo-sharing site, email and more.

As I noted when Parsey arrived in early 2011, “in the 67-ring circus that has been Yahoo’s product organization, design was widely dispersed.”

Translation: It was not pretty, unless you enjoyed the Web stylings of 1997.

Parsey certainly had the cred in the design industry, with stints at Apple, Microsoft’s entertainment and devices unit, Mattel and Motorola. Just before Yahoo, 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 was the main dude behind Motorola’s freaky V70 switchblade mobile phone in 2001.

It’s not clear why he is leaving now, or where the crackerjack designer is headed. But, amid a lot of Yahoo turmoil since he arrived, Parsey certainly stabilized the design culture at the company.

Also in play, according to numerous sources: New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has a very “hands-on” style with regard to design — she pretty much considers herself the last and only stop on that train, among others, based on her experience at Google running a number of products including its pristine and much acclaimed search box. No surprise, then, she has involved herself strongly in the design process.

On his LinkedIn profile, which still lists him as working at Yahoo, Parsey talked about his ethos of design there:

“This is about weaving a global UX and UER organization from the existing 200+ designers and researchers that today support an array of different businesses. It’s part of a rather cool broader corporate transition project. It’s also very much about establishing design as a potent, world-class entity that’s fun to be part of.”

He also notes: “These days I’m very excited about the correlation between internal cultures that are truly ‘meaningful’ to designers ( and other functions ), and world-class design innovation.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google