Peter Kafka

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Yahoo Video Head Erin McPherson Heads for Maker Studios, the Giant YouTube Network

Yahoo! Launch Event For Original Video Programming And Yahoo! Screen

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Erin McPherson, the Yahoo executive who has been in charge of the portal’s video efforts, is leaving the company. She’s going to Maker Studios, the giant YouTube network that’s trying to build a business outside of the world’s biggest video site.

People familiar with McPherson’s plans said she is going to be Maker’s “chief content officer,” reporting to executive chairman Ynon Kreiz. I’ve asked Yahoo and Maker for comment. (Update: Maker has issued a press release announcing the hire.)

(Second update: Yahoo has now confirmed the hire. “We can confirm that Erin McPherson is leaving Yahoo,” a company spokeswoman wrote in an email. “We thank Erin for her many contributions to Yahoo and wish her all the best.”)

Maker represents a group of video makers — like PewDiePie, YouTube’s biggest star (for now) — who generate four billion views a month. All of those views are generated on YouTube, but Maker, like other big YouTube players, is trying to build a business that also makes money from sources outside YouTube — like sites Maker owns and operates.

In September, Maker raised a $26 million round, which came less than a year after it raised $36 million from investors including Time Warner.

McPherson’s move follows former Yahoo media head Mickie Rosen’s departure this summer. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who has been wooing celebrities like Ryan Seacrest to join her rebuilding effort, has been looking for some time to hire a media executive with big credentials from the TV world.

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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