NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sales chief Joanne Bradford's tenure at Yahoo turned out to be a brief one.
Ms. Bradford is leaving the company after 18 months and will join Santa Monica, Calif.-based Demand Media as chief revenue officer.
The move came as a surprise to Yahoo execs, and was confirmed in a statement hours after it was first reported by Kara Swisher at AllThingsDigital. "Joanne Bradford has decided to leave Yahoo to pursue a new opportunity. Joanne will be working with the team over the coming weeks to enable a smooth transition."
Ms. Bradford was hired in September 2008, three months before Carol Bartz joined Yahoo as CEO, but while her immediate boss, Susan Decker, left the company, Ms. Bradford stayed on and was considered key to the web company's turnaround strategy. In addition to serving as Yahoo's top sales exec, Ms. Bradford was leading the sales integration for the Yahoo-Microsoft search deal, where Yahoo would sell premium search inventory for both companies.
Yahoo did not name a successor and declined to comment beyond their statement. If Yahoo decides to replace Ms. Bradford with an internal candidate, Mitch Spolan is widely thought to be a potential successor. Mr. Spolan was elevated to sales chief for North America last April, reporting to Ms. Bradford.
Prior to Yahoo, Ms. Bradford worked for six months at WPP-backed TV ad startup Spot Runner, and for six years as VP of sales at Microsoft's web arm, MSN. At Demand Media, she'll sell the company's owned and operated sites, such as Ehow.com, Livestrong.com and Cracked; custom content; and its Pluck social-media services.
Yahoo was walloped on revenue in 2009 -- not a surprise given the general state of the economy. Fourth-quarter ad sales were a bit better, but still below the year-ago quarter.
The company is battling Facebook to keep its share of time spent on the internet, and has pursued a strategy of allowing users to pull all their social feeds into a customized Yahoo home page.