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Industry Moves: NPR’s Digital Head Maria Thomas Leaving; Joining Etsy As COO

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You’re reading it here first: NPR’s longtime digital head Maria Thomas is leaving the company. She will be joining the happening e-commerce site Etsy, as the COO. The announcement was made internally today, and I confirmed it with Thomas.

Thomas was the head of digital for more than six years, and was responsible for NPR’s multiple forays into digital, including its early jump into podcasting and developing NPR’s online music efforts. Prior to joining NPR in 2001, Thomas spent three years at (NSDQ: AMZN), and played a key role in launching its camera and photo store.

This comes a month after former CEO Ken Stern left and a new interim CEO Dennis L. Haarsager took over. “It is about an opportunity for me, and not much to do with NPR,” she said. NPR will search for a replacement. On Etsy, she said, “Brand Etsy already represents something bigger than buying and selling stuff; it stands for authenticity. In a world that

11 Responses to “Industry Moves: NPR’s Digital Head Maria Thomas Leaving; Joining Etsy As COO”

  1. Maria was very much involved in on the business side of digital media at NPR, where she landed after a successful run developing new product verticals at Amazon. It doesn't surprise me that she's leaving NPR for a more progressive, forward-planning online retailer. Maria is a visionary, and she's inspired many, many people the past several years with how she's tried to converge NPR's digital and analog efforts.

    As someone who has worked in journalism for many years (first as a reporter, now as a consultant and adviser), I'm sad to see Maria go. I know many journalists who really wanted to work under her and to learn from her experience.

    On the other hand, there's no reason that publishers can't learn from what online retailers are doing to try and build better business models for the future…

  2. chroot

    @Mover – Thomas was pushing NPR to treat digital media as a P&L;business. In the past three years, staff in digital media division tripled, from 30 to 100. Revenues for sponsorship (advertising) on NPR's site and podcasts were growing every year. You should research what she did at NPR before making such conclusions. She also oversaw NPR's ecommerce efforts and customer-focused shop. Etsy's gain – I predict she will grow that business like she grew NPR's digital side.

  3. Chris Mandra

    I was acting VP of NPR online when Maria was hired to be VP back in '01.
    In fact, I helped decide she was the right person for NPR. Many of the comments being made here are probably similar to sentiments people (on the outside) probably had about her leaping from Amazon to NPR. They were wrong, and I believe you will be proven wrong as well, She is sincere, passionate, dedicated and UNBELIEVABLY focused and diligent. This is an interesting fit, to be sure, but I would put up money that in a few years time ETSY will be a much bigger deal in every positive way.

    You people understandably may be skeptical of this move. In knowing her I know she likes nothing more than the biggest challenges for the rightest of reasons. Your invective does her a disservice, but time will prove me right.

  4. This new hire is a coup for Etsy and a loss for public media. For those who know her, Maria is an incredibly talented, Web savvy executive with a finger on the pulse of the user experience, quality content, and new lines of business.

  5. Jenkins

    At best she has to be extremely rusty. Her Amazon experience is at some distance. I'm very surprised they didn't go for someone more relevant — perhaps a senior person from eBay, for instance.

  6. Rafat Ali

    That's unfair..I only quoted her on that one comment..she said nice things about Etsy, but I didn't quote her on that…I wanted to get her perspective on leaving NPR a month after the CEO left.

  7. She sounds lovely – "it's all about me". Nothing even remotely nice to say about the place you are going or the wonderful people you are going to work with or, even possibly, the customers you are looking forward to serving?

    BTW, her Amazon job was not even small potatoes.