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The huge management tumult at Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) this week isn’t likely to hurt the company’s stock much, writes Barclays internet analyst Doug Anmuth. But he, and several Yahoo Newspaper Consortium partners I spoke to, say that while things may remain stable in the short term, there are increasing worries about what happens over time, as it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Yahoo to attract top talent.
In the case of Hilary Schneider, who is one of several top Yahoo execs said to be heading for the door, Newspaper Consortium partners say that while she was considered an important overseer of that business, they didn’t necessarily regard her as a day-to-day point person. One consortium member referred to the Jan. ’09 departure of Sue Decker, who was a driving force behind the creation and development of the Yahoo’s display sales and ad targeting partnership with newspaper publishers. “We were sorry to see Sue go, but ultimately, things have been working out fine ever since,” one publishing exec said. “I think there’s a longer term worry about the stability in general at Yahoo, but I think we’ll just wait and see.”
As for the stock price, shares were down about 1.19 percent this morning. It certainly seems likely the uncertainty about tomorrow’s expected announcement concerning the exodus of Schneider (EVP, Americas Region), Jimmy Pitaro (VP, Media) and his boss David Ko (SVP, Audience, Mobile & Local, North America), is helping to push the company’s stock down. But Barclay’s Anmuth sees a silver lining.
Although the wave of exits raises questions about who is ultimately going to be in charge of Yahoo’s content ad operations in the short term, Anmuth says some of these moves are long overdue. While Yahoo is losing some good talent, “collectively they may not be viewed negatively by those close to Yahoo,” he writes.
But then there’s the long term. Despite strong hires like CFO Tim Morse and more recently EVP and Chief Products Officer Blake Irving, Anmuth notes that Yahoo’s executive team has remained relatively thin and it’s likely to stay that way.
“We believe Yahoo’s management structure below [CEO] Carol Bartz has likely inhibited the company from attracting additional management talent, and may have been a factor in recently filling Joanne Bradford’s previous chief sales role,” Anmuth says. “While we cannot view these departures as positive for the company overall, we do believe they may help Yahoo! attract higher quality talent and they are also likely to put more pressure on the executive management team.”