Yahoo Management Shuffle Confirming Shift Away From Search And Into Content?

Yahoo is seeing quite some movement in its top management. Brad Smith, Intuit President and CEO, as well as Patti Hart, CEO of International Game Technology (IGT), joined the company’s board. At the same time, although the moves are not necessarily related, Larry Cornett, Yahoo’s VP of search consumer products quit.

So what’s going on? Is this a clear sign that the company is losing interest in its search business?

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Who’s In
Yahoo’s annual general meeting saw shareholders elect two new board members, Brad Smith and Patty Hart. The question is: to what extent do those appointments reflect the company’s vision for the future. Small businesses and gaming? If Yahoo is to focus on those verticals, how is it to drive its activities towards those two areas without losing its original calling as a search engine?

Who’s Out
That’s exactly the question. Because, at the same time, although no connection was openly made there, Larry Cornett the company’s search advocate is out the door. He himself did not provide a specific reason for his exit but explained in a blog post, that it was “time to move on” and gave a glimpse of what his future will be made of. Cornett said he will pursue his own activities, “bootstrapping my own stealth (for now) startup.” At the same time, he is launching his own consulting practice, called Brilliant Forge (a name to remember and a company to keep an eye on) to provide product and design advisory services to Fortune 500 companies and startups.

His departure, which didn’t get much media coverage, follows a round of lay offs that hit Yahoo’s search team, earlier this month. According to a company spokeswoman quoted by PaidContent, Cornett’s departure is not related, and he left “a few months ago.” At the time of the staff trimming, Yahoo did not provide numbers but gaveTechCrunch the following statement:

Yahoo! remains focused on innovating the overall Search experience over the long-term, and the Yahoo! Search group is hard at work on some new experiences that we believe will convert Yahoo! users to Yahoo! searchers. To accomplish our new product objectives, we have decided that we need a different combination of talent and are making changes within the search group in order to more deeply invest in other areas of the group.

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Y! Oh Why: Out Of Search And Into Content
We all know this, Yahoo’s search is now being taken care of by Microsoft’s Bing as part of their Search Alliance deal, for which Frank Watson gave us the ins and outs just 10 days ago. Just look at Bing’s brand new Bing Entertainment hub/feature that enables it to dig deep into contextual search.

Yahoo would clearly provide content and Bing would integrate it seamlessly into its search facilities. That would justify and give meaning to the company’s shift towards local business and gaming.

What is more, bringing crowd-sourced news platform Associated Content into its fold consolidates further a content-provider vision for Yahoo. Need more avidence? Look at its Nokia and Koprol deals in Asia: local search and content provision. There you have it.

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