More Execs Are Leaving Yahoo: Where Does That Leave Bartz?

by: Sam Diaz

Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) is gearing up to announce the departures of three top executives later this week, including executive VP Hilary Schneider, who reportedly has been wanting to leave for a while and is finally ready to move on, according to a post on the All Things D Boomtown blog.

The blog, which cites unnamed sources, implies that the shakeup - the departures of Schneider, U.S. Audience head David Ko and VP of Media Jimmy Pitaro - puts CEO Carol Bartz in an even tougher spot than just trying to turn the company around and that the board may already be thinking about a replacement down the road.

That’s a tough call, considering that Yahoo is a massive ship that’s still being turned around by Bartz, following a previous round of management/board turmoil and a tough economic climate.

On the other hand, Yahoo hasn’t really raised the bar since Bartz has come on board. Its latest “product runway” event didn’t offer much more, beyond an introduction to new chief product manager Blake Irving and some social integrations and new looks to email, search results, mobile and so on. Yahoo has a steady flow of users who stream in daily to check everything from stock quotes, news headlines and email messages to horoscopes, sports scores and the Hollywood gossip. They stick around for a while and then they come back later.

That used to be something to brag about in comparison to, say, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which largely sent its visitors to other sites once visitors typed in a query. That’s no longer the case. Facebook has lengthy user engagement times, as well, and has even become an aggregator of news - sort of. And AOL (NYSE:AOL) is beefing up on the content side - most recently with its acquisition of TechCrunch - to bring in those eyeballs and get them to hang out for a while.

Add it up and Yahoo could be headed down a troubled path again. Boomtown reports that some board members last week got together to talk about this management issue. What they’ll do is unclear. But, with these departures, the turning of the ship could become much tougher.