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Is CEO Carol Bartz the next to go? Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Americas EVP Hilary Schneider, SVP of audience, mobile and local David Ko, and Yahoo Media Head Jimmy Pitaro are all leaving Yahoo, Kara Swisher at AllThingsD reports. Yahoo is not commenting on the news, but Swisher says Yahoo will announce the departures on Friday. The news comes as there has been growing buzz that Bartz’s job could be in jeopardy and, indeed, Swisher says board members met this week and might hire a number two who would eventually replace Bartz.
As recently as last week, Bartz maintained that the spate of executive departures that Yahoo has seen in recent months was normal because of Yahoo’s strong position in the industry but there is no way she can still say that with a straight face.
It is not clear why the three are leaving, although Swisher says that Schneider, who has been at Yahoo since 2006 and may be the company’s longest-tenured senior executive, had wanted to “leave the company for awhile” and will now stay on while Yahoo looks for somebody to replace her. Pitaro has been at Yahoo since 2001 and we confirmed that he was on his way out earlier this week. As for Ko, he previously was the global head of Yahoo Mobile and was promoted by Bartz last fall to oversee all of the company’s content sites.
To be fair, Bartz hired Microsoft veteran Blake Irving as the company’s chief product officer after EVP Ari Balogh left this spring, but the number of senior level departures under Bartz from all sides of the company has been over the top. In addition to Balogh, who was CTO, SVP Bryan Lamkin, who oversaw the company’s communications products, and sales chief Joanne Bradford have left this year. And Bartz has been unable to fill some of the company’s upper-level vacancies. The company called off a search for a new international head last summer, saying it couldn’t find a suitable candidate and decided not to replace Bradford, handing off sales to Schneider instead. Some of the latest departures may be related to the hiring of Irving.
who Ko reported to.
Yahoo reports its earnings on Oct. 19, and the departures put additional pressure on Yahoo to improve upon its streak of underwhelming quarterly earnings reports under Bartz. “If this happens to correspond with a financial disappointment when the company reports earnings in a few weeks, then Carol Bartz will be under severe pressure to stabilize the company,” Jordan Rohan of Stifel Nicolaus tells us. “Any one executive leaving Yahoo isn’t news anymore but three says a lot.” Eric Jackson, who founded activist hedge fund Ironfire Capital and led a shareholder revolt against Yahoo CEO Terry Semel in 2007, says, “it looks like Bartz doesn’t have control and something’s really gone wrong here.”