Yahoo Loses CMO and Media Boss Kathy Savitt

Former American Eagle Marketer Joins Studio STX Entertainment

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Kathy Savitt
Kathy Savitt

Yahoo's top marketer and the head of its media business, Kathy Savitt, is leaving the company to join film-and-TV studio STX Entertainment as president of digital.

"We can confirm that Kathy Savitt has decided to leave the company. We appreciate her contributions to Yahoo over the past three years and wish her well," a Yahoo spokeswoman said in an emailed statement on Friday. Re/code had earlier reported on Friday that Ms. Savitt was likely leaving Yahoo and The Wrap followed up.

Yahoo did not immediately name a successor. "While we don't have specific details to share at this time," a spokeswoman said in an email, "we have strong leaders in both Yahoo's media and marketing organizations who will continue to drive the business forward."

If the company fills the post, a successor could already be waiting in the wings: In June the company hired former JCPenney CMO Debra Berman to be its first senior VP of consumer marketing, reporting to Ms. Savitt.

Ms. Savitt stepped down as CEO of social commerce site Lockerz in August 2012 to join Yahoo as its top marketer. The former American Eagle marketing exec put her stamp on Yahoo's brand a year later with the redesign of its iconic logo.

Yahoo's marketing was otherwise fairly quiet during her tenure. While it reached out to some ad agencies last year to create a consumer campaign -- and has run ads in movie theaters to promote its mobile app -- the company never began the all-out brand campaign that might have been expected from an aging portal looking to update its image under CEO Marissa Mayer, who also joined in 2012.

Ms. Savitt may have been preoccupied with overhauling Yahoo's media business. She took over that part of Yahoo soon after Ms. Mayer fired then-COO Henrique De Castro in January 2014. During her time running Yahoo's media business, Ms. Savitt oversaw the expansion of Yahoo's digital magazines -- Tumblr-ified versions of category-specific sections like food, beauty and health -- and video programming line-up, including the acquisition of cancelled NBC sitcom "Community."

Earlier this year Yahoo announced that it would be expanding its 13 digital magazines into their own video networks, with these networks housing 14 of the 18 new programs announced at NewFronts. In addition to those programs, Ms. Savitt looked to double-down on live programming through a renewed deal with Live Nation to stream concerts live on Yahoo's video service Screen as well as a live news program hosted by Katie Couric.

However it appears that Ms. Savitt's efforts on the media and marketing fronts haven't helped Yahoo's traffic. The number of people in the U.S. visiting Yahoo's desktop and mobile properties overall -- and its home page and Screen specifically -- has stagnated, if not dipped, since February 2013, according to comScore.

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