Interview: Wenda Harris Millard, President, Media, MSLO: Leaving Yahoo

Word of a pending announcement detailing Yahoo’s sales integration literally came moments after we heard that Wenda Harris Millard was leaving the company to head media for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. In the hours since we’ve heard different versions about Millard’s departure. Yahoo’s official version made it look as though Millard was re-organized out of the company; unofficially, we heard that she had been offered another job within the company but had decided to leave.(Yes, we know both can be true.) Millard, constantly suggested as a fit for various jobs, told me she was already in discussions with MSLO, where she has been on the board for three years, when she was told several weeks ago that David Karnstedt would become head of integrated U.S. sales and she was offered a job to move to international.

She had resisted international before, saying she would wait until both her children were in college; that’s now the case. But the lure to return to what she calls her roots — Millard was a magazine vet before she went digital with DoubleClick, Ziff Davis and Yahoo — was strong. Her deadline for responding was this weekend; she said they’ve known for a couple of days and her official resignation went in Sunday morning. She told me she even thought the two companies were going to work together for a Monday announcement. She expected Yahoo might mention her new job in its press release and said she was surprised what appeared instead. “That was very disappointing,” she said. “I do feel bad they felt they need to manage this way.” Millard thinks the response may have been affected by the story in Thursday’s New York Post that talked about her value to Yahoo and explored the idea that she might leave to head OMD, as well as by the desire to avoid another batch of “exec departs” headlines.

She stressed that the move was not related to the overall restructuring although she was close to departed CEO Terry Semel and to former COO Dan Rosensweig. Her role actually remained the same after the first re-org, reporting to Greg Coleman, EVP-global sales, as she had for the past six years. Unlike other “chief titles” that signify the top company executive for a specific area, her job as chief sales officer was strictly U.S.

Leaving Yahoo: “Yahoo is a great company … Six years is a long time, especially when you


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