Media Mavens 2013

Adam Cahan Tasked With Building Yahoo's Future Around Mobile

Senior VP-Mobile And Emerging Products Instrumental in Bringing Aboard Top Talent

By Published on .

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is betting the company's future on mobile. Adam Cahan is responsible for ensuring that bet doesn't bust.

Adam Cahan
Adam Cahan

As Yahoo's senior VP-mobile and emerging products, Mr. Cahan, 41, has been aggressively stacking its chips. The majority of the company's 20-plus acquisitions since Ms. Mayer took the reins in July 2012 have been for mobile talent.

That spree began last October with mobile-recommendations app Stamped, which directly led to Yahoo's new mobile-product-development office in New York. "Now we have almost 50 to 60 folks in product and design focused on mobile," Mr. Cahan said. The goal is to build better mobile versions of its desktop sites to draw more users to Yahoo for things like checking email, news and weather on smartphones -- and to get advertisers to follow.

My favorite medium, bar none, is:
Caran D'ache modeling clay. All of us have elements of a maker mentality. Watching my daughters create their worlds in clay and being able to participate in that is magical. They see an opportunity or a problem and reimagine it in a way I couldn't possibly conceive.

Describe your daily media consumption.
My day looks something like: Yahoo mail (phone), Yahoo weather (phone), Spotify in my car (phone), Waze for traffic (phone), Flickr photos (phone), Yahoo news (phone), Sonos (phone) on home stereo, Netflix or HBO GO (iPad) at night and a book to fall asleep.

If you could watch one cable or broadcast network for the rest of your life, which would it be?
National Geographic. I was a wildlife filmmaker based in Zaire (Democratic Republic of Congo) after I graduated from university. We filmed unbelievable wildlife scenes. I lived with the Mbuti tribe and ate mostly rice and beans for about two years. If I had not fallen out of a tree, I'd likely still be there, but that's a much longer story.

What device would you least like to drop into the tracks in front of an oncoming train?
My garage-door clicker. I can't seem to hold onto keys and it's the only way I can get into my house. There's no backup system.

What is your guilty-pleasure TV show, old-school sitcom or magazine?
If I had to pick a TV show, it would be "Game of Thrones." I'm still thinking about The Red Wedding. After more than two years of following these characters, wow -- just wow.

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