Another Exec Flees Yahoo! Amid Portal Woes

Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) announced Wednesday that Anil Singh, its chief sales and marketing officer and senior vice president of business operations, was retiring in early May “to spend more time with his family and pursue personal interests.”

“Although most of these execs are citing the generic ‘personal reasons’ line, the likely cause is the fundamental deterioration of the business,” Morningstar.com analyst George Nichols told the E-Commerce Times. “Next to being the PR director for Bridgestone/Firestone, I can’t think of a more unenviable job than being the marketing director for Yahoo!.”

Singh’s departure comes at a difficult time for the Internet portal as the softening online advertising market has left the company struggling to diversify its revenue sources and decrease its dependence on online advertising. The company has also lost a string of high-profile executives in recent weeks.

“I don’t blame Singh for departing. Whoever holds this position will face the Herculean task of stemming the tide of industry-wide plummeting ad revenues,” the analyst said.

Lowered Expectations

Last week Yahoo!, citing “challenging economic conditions,” lowered its first quarter guidance.

Yahoo! said it now expects first quarter revenues to be between US$170 million and $180 million, and that net income will be approximately breakeven. Previously, Wall Street analysts had been expecting $232 million in revenue and profits of 5 cents per share.

Exit This Way

Singh is just the latest high-level executive to step down. Last week, the company announced that Tim Koogle was stepping down as chief executive officer, but would remain on the board.

Other high level departures at the company include the resignation of Mark Rubinstein, the managing director of Yahoo! Canada, two weeks ago and the February departures of Fabiola Arrendondo, head of Yahoo’s European operations, and Savio Chow, vice president of Yahoo! Asia.

“Considering the deteriorating business at the Internet portal, we are concerned about how long it will take to find talented individuals willing to fill these vacated positions. This further contributes to the ongoing turmoil at the company and we don’t see the clouds lifting anytime soon,” Nichols said in a research note.

Singh Song

Yahoo! credits the departing Singh with “building one of the Internet’s most successful sales operations.” However, Singh’s exit was not completely unexpected.

As recently as three months ago, Singh, who joined the company as its 21st employee in 1995, reportedly said he planned to relinquish some of his responsibilities to focus on more senior-level strategic operations. At the time Yahoo! said that Singh would continue to work full-time for the company.

Branching Out

On Tuesday Yahoo! announced that it was partnering with reverse auction provider eWanted. Under the deal, Yahoo! Auctions users will have direct access to eWanted’s offerings, which include both fixed-price business-to-consumer (B2C) sales as well as reverse auction services.

Other steps taken by Yahoo! to diversify its revenue sources include the decision to charge listing fees for online auctions and for placement in its directory, as well as expansion into Australian markets.

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