Six weeks into her tenure as Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz has announced her first major move: A much-anticipated overhaul of the company's management structure, including the creation of a "customer advocacy group," to make the company more efficient and responsive to both advertisers and consumers.
"People here have impressed the hell out of me. They're smart, dedicated, passionate, driven, and really nice," she wrote in a post the company's blog. "But there's also plenty that has bogged this company down. For starters, you'd be amazed at how complicated some things are here."
The changes are designed to streamline operations and make Yahoo "faster on its feet," Bartz wrote.
Chief among the personnel changes is the creation of a chief marketing officer role, to be filled by Elisa Steele, previously SVP of corporate marketing at NetApp. She will begin on March 23rd.
The Tech and Product groups are being combined into a single entity called Products that will be responsible for "the vision, strategy and quality of every product we create," according to a spokesman in an e-mail message. That group will be led by Ari Baligh, newly appointed EVP of products and CTO, who will report directly to Bartz.
Yahoo has not yet identified someone to lead the new customer advocacy team, and exactly how it will function is still unclear. But the spokesman said it "will help us to better hear the voice of the customer across the company and incorporate what we hear into all our work throughout Yahoo."
The spokesman said the management changes would have no direct impact on Yahoo's ad sales team, but that "there's no question they will use information from the customer advocacy group to improve how they support our customers."
Also part of the reorganization is a renewed focus on mobile efforts and a Service Engineering & Operations team that will be charged with delivering technology services at scale.
The announcement comes on the heels of the news that CFO Blake Jorgensen is leaving the company. His responsibilities will reportedly be absorbed into Baligh's new role.
"We'll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer," Bartz said in her blog post. "For you using Yahoo every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, 'Wow."
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Douglas Quenqua is a journalist based in Brooklyn, NY who writes about culture and technology. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired, The New York Observer, and Fortune.
March 19, 2014