Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Yahoo’s Chief Product Officer Blake Irving Resigns

According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo’s Chief Product Officer Blake Irving has turned in his resignation and it has been accepted by the company.

The process for Irving’s departure is a bit more formal since he is a top officer at the Silicon Valley Internet giant. But it is perhaps not that surprising, given that a brunt of the 2,000 employee layoffs at Yahoo yesterday were in his part of the organization.

Irving has not been at Yahoo this week during those wrenching cuts — that’s because the resignation has been in the works for some time.

In fact, in a restructuring to be announced next week, the central product organization at Yahoo he runs was essentially blown up, with the development moving back into media, sales and consumer products units being planned.

In addition, Yahoo’s new CEO Scott Thompson has been contemplating selling off large parts of the company’s advertising technology platforms, as well as its search business, also now under Irving.

Irving had largely opposed the strategy that Thompson has been aiming toward, said sources, and also strongly disagreed with laying off so many employees without a clear plan in place. Many inside and outside Yahoo agree.

He was also apparently concerned about the massive engineering and research talent exodus of late, especially in Yahoo’s vaunted Labs arm, which suffered major cuts in the layoffs.

The former Microsoft exec has no plans for another job, said sources, but has had a number of offers.

Yahoo confirmed the resignation when I called to ask about Irving’s goodbye. “Yahoo wishes him all the success in the future,” said the spokesperson.

Irving came to Yahoo in mid-2010 under former CEO Carol Bartz, who was fired last fall. Under his leadership, the product unit had focused a lot on creating a major publishing platform for Yahoo and other media companies. He debuted its Livestand content app earlier this year.

Here is a video interview I did with Irving in happier times, talking about Yahoo products, in which he sported a very handsome blue cashmere sweater:

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle