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What Karen Edwards loves most about her job is seeing people smile when they find out she works at Yahoo!.

Joining Yahoo! at nearly its inception, Ms. Edwards has seen the company grow from about 20 employees to about 230. She's also watched the Yahoo! brand blossom from an amorphous Internet technology to one of new media's most recognized and emulated Web brands.

Because she comes from a background steeped in consumer branding, Ms. Edwards saw a real opportunity to create a "really cool consumer franchise" in Yahoo!.

"We're successful because we've been able to reach a very broad audience without losing the soul from which the company was born," Ms. Edwards said. "Key to that end is not taking ourselves too seriously. We're about keeping a very human face to the brand, which is why people smile when they hear the Yahoo! name."

More so than any other search engine, Yahoo! has been the most successful in generating traffic, creating a national and local brand for itself and selling online advertising. Yahoo! last quarter reported 38 million page views a day and $13.5 million in revenue--higher than any of the other engines.

One of its TV spots, created by Black Rocket, San Francisco, was a Clio nominee this year. Yahoo!'s marketing focuses on "seeing the big picture while still maintaining a consistently strong brand identity."

When first joining the company, part of Ms. Edwards' responsibilities included reading hundreds of user e-mails each day. She believes that experience is invaluable to her success at Yahoo!. "Working from the bottom up and keeping focused on the consumer are what make for a successful company," she said.

Betcha didn't know: Ms. Edwards and her husband bought a Tudor-style house from the 1920s and spend the majority of their free time rehabbing it. They are doing everything from painting and refinishing hardwood floors and landscaping the yard to rewiring the electrical and plumbing infrastructure.

Vital Stats:
Title:Director of brand management, Yahoo!, Santa Clara, Calif.
Age/bio:34, born in Long Beach, Calif. B.A. in communications, Stanford University, 1985. MBA, Harvard University, 1990.
Career highlights:Account exec at BBDO, 1986-89; brand manager at Clorox Co., 1990-91; director of marketing for video/business operations at Fox Broadcasting Co. in France, Italy and Spain, 1992-96; current post, January 1996-.

Copyright July 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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