Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo PR Head Jill Nash to Depart the Company

Jill Nash, Yahoo’s chief communications officer, has told CEO Carol Bartz and other Yahoo staff this afternoon that she is leaving the company.

Yahoo has not made Nash’s resignation official, but is likely to do so quickly as Bartz tries to stanch incessant leaks (like this one; see below!).

In any case, sources said Nash does not appear to have any definite plans to move to another company immediately, so the reasons for her departure are unclear.

BoomTown would have to guess that Nash is simply completely spent from her past two years at Yahoo (YHOO), which have been very fraught from a public relations perspective, to say the least.

Nash, who was hired by former CEO Terry Semel, has had to deal with everything from management turmoil, after Semel was replaced by co-founder Jerry Yang, to poor financial results to a nasty takeover attempt by Microsoft (MSFT) to an even less friendly proxy fight to a failed search deal with Google (GOOG) to recent wrenching layoffs.

Not much good news to report, in other words, especially with a tough turnaround road ahead with newly installed CEO Bartz, who seems to have a very strong mind of her own about public relations.

(Including, several sources tell me, this week in an internal memo, offering cash rewards to employees who turn in other employees who leak to the press. Bartz has also initiated investigations to stop leaks. All I can say about these tactics–while it might seem reasonable to try to stop the leaking, from a management perspective, and I see why Bartz is focusing on it–is: Yahoo is not a prison and its employees are not snitches and–more to the point–they won’t leak to me if Bartz fixes the company.)

While I have not always seen eye-to-eye with Nash on this column’s coverage of Yahoo, I have found her to be a pro to deal with and fair, especially considering the often tense circumstances at Yahoo in the last year.

Nash is not the first top Yahoo exec to depart since Bartz got to Yahoo in mid-January and will not likely be the last, as the new CEO carves out her own path and chooses the team she wants.

Many Yahoos have told me, not for attribution and at all levels of the company, that they are bone-tired of the long-term struggle the company has been engaged in and want to move on, even in this weak economic climate.

Last week, this column reported the departures of Zimbra co-founder Satish Dharmaraj and marketing exec Eric Hadley, neither of which was necessarily due to Bartz’s arrival.

Now it’s Nash’s turn to say goodbye. According to Yahoo’s Web site, her duties were to lead its outward-facing efforts.

It reads, in part: “As a key member of the Yahoo! executive team, Nash will be responsible for the company’s worldwide communications efforts, including public and media relations, corporate reputation, corporate, financial and employee communications, and crisis and issues management.”

Nash came to Yahoo from the Gap, where she was the VP of global corporate communications. Previous to that, she worked at Charles Schwab (SCHW), KPMG and Transamerica Life.

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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