Ross Levinsohn is coming in from the investment cold for one of the top jobs at Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO), EVP-Yahoo Americas. The ex-News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). exec, who helped Rupert Murdoch invest about $1 billion on digital, including MySpace, will succeed Hilary Schneider, who announced her decision to leave several weeks ago. Levinsohn will be responsible for the media group, advertising sales, and partnerships for the Americas region; his arrival also should help with some of the gap left by Jimmy Pitaro’s departure for Disney.
The news that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was headed in this direction was first reported by Kara Swisher. Levinsohn will report directly to Bartz
It’s not like Levinsohn has been in exile since he left News Corp. in late 2006, when Murdoch switched to operating mode from acquisitions. He’s the head of Fuse Capital, the investment fund he founded with Jon Miller before Miller wound up as Murdoch’s latest digital czar. Levinsohn opted for investing over a number of possible corporate jobs, insisting that Fuse (first known as Velocity) was not a parking spot. But he has chafed at not being in the kind of high-profile, impact role he had in his last years at News Corp. and was primed to accept just that at Yahoo.
Will it work? Bartz could use a star hire to distract from the departures (the ones she says are no big deal) and to attract talent. Levinsohn’s salesmanship and media-business savvy also provides some contrast for the blunt Bartz. The biggest knock he took at News Corp. was the idea that he’s not a good operator because the integration of the Fox Interactive Media acquisitions didn’t work. The spin from the other direction was that he would rather build then operate. At Fuse, he’s been able to work with a small cluster of startups and with BestBuy on a media venture fund.
At Yahoo, he’s going to have to do a lot of both but within the confines of a large public company where what he does is material, the glaring spotlight kind, (not part of “other” in earnings reports), and much of it is about managing for consistency as much as change. More to come.
Yahoo! Appoints Ross Levinsohn as Executive Vice President of Americas
SUNNYVALE, Calif., October 27, 2010 – Yahoo! Inc. announced today that the company has appointed Ross Levinsohn as executive vice president of the Americas region. As one of the direct reports of CEO Carol Bartz, Levinsohn will join the executive staff of Yahoo! in November and will be responsible for the company’s media group, advertising sales, and partnerships for the Americas region.
“Ross has a phenomenal track record of executing digital media strategies that increase user engagement and, most importantly, accelerate topline growth,” said Bartz. “I am confident that Ross’s strategic vision, in addition to his deep industry experience, will allow us to solidify our position as the largest digital media, content and communications business around the globe.”
Levinsohn has long been on the forefront of digital media innovation. Prior to joining Yahoo!, he was the co-founder and managing director of Fuse Capital, an investment and strategic equity management firm focused on investing in and building digital media and communications companies. Levinsohn previously served as the president of News Corporation’s Fox Interactive Media, where he was responsible for running the day-to-day business, designing the overall strategy and leading investments that helped transform the company into a leader in digital media.
Levinsohn also held senior management positions with AltaVista, an early pioneer and leader in search, CBS (NYSE: CBS) Sportsline where he oversaw all content and development for the top rated sports site, and HBO where he launched and oversaw a unit developing new programming and revenue streams.
“Yahoo! is one of the premier Internet companies in the world,” said Levinsohn. “Having this opportunity to work with a group of immensely talented people to enhance Yahoo!’s leadership position is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”