Yahoo CEO's New Vision Begins to Take Form

New Roles for Former Europe Head Rich Riley and Marketing Chief Penny Baldwin

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Today, a week after Yahoo announced layoffs of 2,000, CEO Scott Thompson articulated the seeds of a new vision for Yahoo along with a streamlined organizational chart in a staff memo and company-wide meeting.

Scott Thompson
Scott Thompson

He also announced an interim CMO, former Young & Rubicam exec Penny Baldwin, who replaces Elisa Steele. Responsible for Yahoo's "It's You" branding campaign, Ms. Steele left the company in December, according to her LinkedIn profile.

On the ad-sales side, Rich Riley, the former head of Yahoo's operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will assume the new role of head of Americas. Wayne Powers, head of North American sales, will report to Mr. Riley, Ad Age has learned; Mr. Powers previously reported to former Executive VP-Americas Ross Levinsohn.

Beginning May 1, the company will organize around three groups: consumer, regions, and technology, according to the memo. The regions group is essentially Yahoo's ad-sales operations.

Gone is the central product unit (along with its chief, Blake Irving). Product-engineering teams are being assigned to three divisions under the consumer group: media, to be led by Mr. Levinsohn and to include the businesses around Yahoo's main online-media properties; connections, which Shashi Seth (who has had the title senior VP-search) will head, running search as well as properties such as Mail and Flickr; and commerce, whose head has not been named.

In the memo, Mr. Thompson describes the commerce unit's focus as "driving higher ROI for advertisers and agencies that reach users on Yahoo by closing the loop for them between user interests, advertiser spend, consumer intent and purchase behavior."

It will be interesting to see what offerings come out of this unit, considering Mr. Thompson's PayPal roots.

Mr. Thompson said the regions would house ad-sales operations and be divided into Americas, led by Mr. Riley; Asia/Pacific (or APAC), which will continue to be led by Rose Tsou; and Europe/Middle East (or EMEA) vacated by Mr. Riley and led on an interim basis by Christophe Parcot, who once headed regional sales. A search is under way for a permanent head. "I expect our regional leaders and teams to work in very close collaboration with Ross [Levinsohn], and our other consumer-group leaders to fully align their goals for revenue and engagment as well as their execution, keeping our users and advertisers top-of -mind," Mr. Thompson wrote.

The final group, technology, will comprise a platforms unit and be run by longtime Yahoo exec Mark Morrissey. Yahoo's Right Media Exchange will come under Mr. Morrissey's purview, though sources say the company is examining a possible sale of the unit.

Mr. Thompson is expected to elaborate on his plans in next week's first-quarter earnings call. Yahoo's display revenue is expected to be down 4% year-over-year, according to Pivotal Research Group.

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