Exclusive: Major Meltdown at Yahoo as More Top Execs to Depart, Including U.S. Head Hilary Schneider

Published on September 29, 2010
by Kara Swisher

The executive turmoil at the very top of Yahoo continues, with the company poised to announce the resignations of three top execs, including U.S. head Hilary Schneider (pictured here), according to sources close to the situation.

The other execs also leaving, which Yahoo (YHOO) is planning on revealing Friday: U.S. Audience head David Ko and, as BoomTown previously reported, VP of Media Jimmy Pitaro.

While some at Yahoo are trying to spin it as an ouster, sources close to the situation said that Schneider–who presides over media and advertising sales at Yahoo–has wanted to leave the company for a while, but was convinced to stay on by CEO Carol Bartz.

Schneider will, in fact, stay at Yahoo while it searches for her replacement. Heidrick & Struggles had already been headhunting candidates for her job in recent weeks.

Why Ko, who works directly for Schneider, is leaving now is uncertain, although sources said a lot of product control over properties under him is being moved over to Chief Product Officer Blake Irving.

Irving was hired several months ago by Bartz, and he has brought in many former colleagues from Microsoft (MSFT) to top product jobs at the company. And he’s appeared to have won the latest corporate power play too.

This entire mess–and that’s precisely what it is–calls into question the tenure of Bartz, a tough-talking, cost-cutting exec who was brought in to clean up Yahoo after the maelstrom around the failed takeover attempt by Microsoft several years ago.

She replaced co-founder Jerry Yang and came in with guns blazing and styling herself as an agent of change.

Except not too much as changed–except for finally striking a search technology deal with Microsoft–as the exodus of talent from Yahoo increases, advertising revenue growth is anemic, innovation is stalled, metrics are weak and the stock remains moribund.

In addition, Bartz’s frequent shoot-from-the-hip remarks appear to have alienated a number of partners, most recently in Asia.

This week, according to sources, some board members had an emergency meeting at Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, Calif., HQ to try to figure out how to deal with the burgeoning management issue.

Some speculate that they will hire a second-in-command to Bartz, who might be able to take over for her when her contract is up in 18 months.

Yahoo declined to comment.

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