Yahoo confirms departure of media chief Mickie Rosen
By Zach Miners
Mickie Rosen, head of global media at Yahoo, who was responsible for properties including Yahoo News, Sports and Finance, is leaving the company effective Sept. 1, Yahoo revealed Monday in a regulatory filing.
The change was announced just hours after Yahoo disclosed the resignation of three board members: Daniel Loeb, Harry Wilson and Michael Wolf, effective July 31, bringing the size of the company’s board down to seven. “The remaining directors are committed to revisiting the board’s size and composition,” Yahoo said in a statement. However, the two events are believed to be unrelated.
The board members’ resignations were disclosed alongside Yahoo’s announcement of its repurchase of 40 million shares of Yahoo common stock owned by hedge fund Third Point, at a purchase price of US$29.11 per share. Loeb is CEO at Third Point; the hedge fund had nominated Wilson and Wolf as Yahoo board members.
In a separate filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Yahoo said that Rosen, who had served as senior vice president, global media and commerce since 2011, would receive severance benefits specified in her existing agreement with the company. A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to comment further on Rosen’s departure or provide information about a replacement.
Yahoo’s media division includes multiple site properties that are critical to the company’s business, such as Yahoo Sports, Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Video, which provides original, premium and third-party content that is distributed across Yahoo’s network.
Since October, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has attracted more attention for a slew of small mobile acquisitions than for revamping Yahoo’s media offerings. But video in particular is one of four key revenue opportunities the company expects to focus on in the immediate future, Mayer said last week during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.
During the call, Mayer called video a primary area of investment over the next year, along with new products geared toward improving the company’s display advertising revenue, which fell by 11 percent in the quarter.
Yahoo faces enormous pressure to reinvent itself and demonstrate its relevance to users who have flocked to rival Internet companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. Some industry analysts have characterized the company as a sinking ship, but the departures of board members Loeb, Wolf and Wilson and media chief Rosen are not connected, said Erik Gordon, associate director at the University of Michigan’s Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.
“Loeb dumped two-thirds of his stock, and his guys left the board, because he thinks the chances of the stock price going up are too slim to justify the risk of having so much money in the company,” Gordon said.
But Rosen left for her own reasons, including the fact that Yahoo’s media team “are losing their independence,” he said, adding that Mayer wants more direct control over the media business.
Yahoo’s stock has risen more than 70 percent over the past year, though Mayer’s tech-celebrity status and the company’s stake in the profitable Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba have been key factors in its ascension, experts have said.