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A world-weary Ross Levinsohn of Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) appears to be getting used to the idea of an executive circus taking place over his head. With yet another chaotic search topic taking place for yet another CEO, Levinsohn said Yahoo is focused on premium video services and taking advantage of the huge ocean of data created on its site every day.
“If you’ve done jobs like this over the years, you sort of get used to it,” said Levinsohn in response to questions from Web 2.0 Summit co-host John Battelle about the current status of Yahoo, a few months removed from the unceremonial departure of CEO Carol Bartz. Levinsohn said something very similar at our paidContent Advertising conference in September: “if you’re transforming, it means you’re still in business.”
Still, there’s little doubt that it’s once again a weird time to be working for Yahoo as the board of directors searches for a new CEO and prominent executives (like CTO Raymie Stata) seek other roles. But Levinsohn said he was excited coming off the Clinton Foundation Concert over the weekend, which was exclusively live-streamed by Yahoo’s video group.
“I’ve seen the roller coaster of this business,” Levinsohn said in perhaps the understatement of the afternoon. “I truly have always believed in the power of Yahoo and the power of the distribution that lies there.”
And as Yahoo focuses on premium video events like the concert–where U2 and Lady Gaga performed–the key is to get advertisers to notice just how targeted an ad they can serve across Yahoo’s sites based on the reams of data, or “signals,” that Yahoo accumulates. “Those signals that yahoo has are incredible, taking advantage of that is the holy grail.”
So is Levinsohn interested in running Yahoo? He demurred, saying that he was focused on his current job but not exactly taking himself out of the running either. He also said that he wasn’t going to “speculate” on the fate of AOL (NYSE: AOL) and Yahoo, which wasn’t exactly an outright denial of suggestions that the two companies are discussing novel merger ideas.