Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Yahoo Loses Its Media Head, as Mickie Rosen Ankles From Company

mickie-rosen

According to sources, Yahoo’s media head Mickie Rosen is leaving the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

Rosen, who reported to COO Henrique De Castro, is one of the highest-ranking execs to depart the company in recent months. Others include design head Tim Parsey.

The experienced Rosen is apparently not taking another job and Yahoo does not seem to have someone to replace her immediately. Given her top rank, the company will likely have to file a regulatory document about her departure.

(Update: An internal memo on Rosen’s departure from De Castro and CEO Marissa Mayer is now out at the company, sources said. I will endeavor to get my hands on it, but insiders are nervous about email surveillance by Yahoo — appropriately so — and would only read me parts.)

(Second update: Yahoo confirmed my report, noting Rosen will depart this Friday and that she “has made tremendous contributions to Yahoo!’s media business over the past 2 1/2 years, and we wish her all the best.” Yahoo also filed an 8-K document with the Securities and Exchange Commission on her leaving, noting she will receive severance benefits.)

There are more big departures to come, said sources, as lucrative stock options have vested recently for several high-ranking execs, some of whom are not part of Mayer’s tightly knit and unusually loyal circle of execs and assistants.

The management move comes after the dramatic departure today of hedge fund investor Dan Loeb from the board, along with two other board members associated with him, and the buyback by Yahoo of 40 million shares from the activist shareholder.

The move by Rosen leaves a major hole for Yahoo to fill. The former News Corp and Disney online exec has run the Yahoo Media Network since early 2011, a job that includes purview over its powerful content sites, such as Yahoo Finance, Sports and News. She has been based in the Los Angeles area, where Yahoo has a large office in Santa Monica, Calif.

In that position, she spearheaded a number of major video and other content initiatives, and also managed to largely hold onto Yahoo’s media audience. Content offerings have been the one continued area of strength at the company over the years, although Mayer has focused largely on Yahoo’s mobile efforts since she arrived a year ago and has mostly ignored the media part of the business, which pays the bills.

No longer — Rosen must now be replaced with another high-profile online media exec and Mayer and De Castro must also figure out a way to hire former AOL sales exec Ned Brody. He was recruited by the pair in a talent raid, but cannot work at Yahoo due to a non-compete contract in force — or also find another top exec for the key Americas advertising job.

This puts the pressure on De Castro, who has come up very short in ad sales and reportedly scrambled in the most recent quarter to minimize the downturn in revenue, to hire a top team in the media unit. Sources said he recently made the rounds of ad agencies outlining a plan to turbocharge the area for Yahoo, but many in the industry still have a wait-and-see attitude toward the company’s strategy.

“It’s a lot of noise and fewer specifics as yet,” said one high-ranking ad player, in a common refrain. “Telling us to buy more Yahoo is not enough — there has to be a cogent plan to differentiate it from competitors.”

Previous to her Yahoo job, Rosen was CEO of Tecca, a price-checking service, and also worked at the Fandango online movie ticketing site. She was also the head of entertainment for Fox Interactive Media and has worked at an e-learning startup, an Idealab consumer robotics company, in Disney’s corporate alliances group and at McKinsey & Company.

Rosen was brought to Yahoo by longtime colleague and former Americas head Ross Levinsohn, who lost the CEO job to Mayer and left the company soon after.

Yahoo PR has yet to return an email seeking comment, but it’s so.


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