Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

European Head Toby Coppel Departs Yahoo

Yahoo is losing yet another top executive–Toby Coppel, its EVP and managing director of Europe and Canada, is set to announce today that he is stepping down.

The departure, which has been in the works for months, is not related to the recent news that Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang is also relinquishing his job as soon as the company completes its search for another CEO.

Coppel’s job covers the major Western European markets (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Scandinavia), as well as Canada, for Yahoo (YHOO).

His successor will be Rich Riley, who is currently SVP of Europe’s Advertiser & Publisher Group, which put him in charge of all revenues for the division. Riley, who came to Yahoo a decade ago, was previously the head of Yahoo’s Small & Medium Business Group in the U.S.

Coppel, who came to Yahoo with former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel in 2001, has run European operations for Yahoo for 18 months. And most of his time has been spent restructuring and making massive cuts.

The unit will have about one-third of the people as when Coppel arrived by the first quarter, after the current round of layoffs. And, if you include Yahoo’s sale of the comparison-shopping site Kelkoo last week, the cuts total 45 percent of its former size.

Coppel also shepherded the move of Yahoo’s European HQ to Switzerland from higher-priced London. Most of its top managers are now located there, although London remains an important Yahoo outpost, since it is the largest online ad market in Europe.

Coppel will remain with Yahoo until the end of the first quarter to ensure a smooth transition. He told BoomTown in an interview that his future plans are undetermined, except to welcome his third child into the world very soon.

“I have been transitioning our European business, restructuring it and making it stronger, as Yahoo is moving to product development on a global platform,” said Coppel. “While there is more work, there is now a strong team in place, focused on going forward and it needs to spread its wings.”

Coppel noted, although a lot of his tenure was occupied by restructuring the European unit, that “we have taken display advertising market share from MSN, AOL and other competitors in almost every one of our European markets in 2008 and we grew our Canadian business over 50 percent this year.”

And, indeed, Yahoo’s online display advertising business is stronger in Europe, although subject to the same vicious economic downturn that has hit the U.S. market.

In addition, Yahoo–and everyone else–lags well behind Google (GOOG) in the more lucrative search business in Europe, even more so than in the U.S., forcing competitors like Yahoo to streamline to compete.

That has meant layoffs, but also re-architecting Yahoo’s product development toward a global model to cut costs and also getting rid of some noncore assets like Kelkoo.

It was revealed last week that Kelkoo was sold to a U.K.-based private equity firm called Jamplant, at a reported discount from what Yahoo paid for it–$576 million–in 2004.

Now that all these kinds of major changes were made, Coppel said, it seemed a good time for him to go too.

“My value add-was not what it was going forward,” said Coppel, who noted that several layers of management in Europe had been collapsed in his tenure. “If we are streamlining and we mean it, it has to also start at the top.”

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