Blue Lithium CMO Sullivan Latest to Leave Yahoo for Startup

Dakota Sullivan last week became the latest marketing executive to leave Yahoo in favor of a technology start-up. Sullivan, who was chief marketing officer at Blue Lithium, which Yahoo acquired for $300 million in 2007, is now vice president of marketing and product at Adap.tv.

Adap.tv is the maker of OneSource, a platform that helps publishers manage and maximize their online video content. The company is based in San Mateo, CA, and is backed by private funding.

Sullivan said he left Yahoo for the chance to help confront a widespread challenge facing online publishers.

“Even at Yahoo I had the opportunity to talk to and work with a lot of different publishers who have lots of video content but are frustrated by the difficulty of making money off it,” he said. Lots of publishers are drawn in by ad networks that promise $10 CPMs, he said, only to find out that those CPMs only apply when they have ads to deliver, which is maybe 10 percent of the time. “So you’re actually ending up with $1 CPMs, and [the publishers] think the solution is to integrate another ad network. But that doesn’t work.”

That thinking is what led to the name OneSource for Adap.tv’s platform. “Online publishers can integrate ads from their own sales team or multiple ad networks,” he said.

Sullivan’s exit from Yahoo comes on the heels of Robin Keller’s departure for blog tracking and search company Technorati. Keller served as national account director at Yahoo in the search marketing and graphic display ad sales groups. Keller and Technorati did not respond to a request for comment.

While many believe Yahoo is struggling with an exodus of talent, Sullivan suggested the company’s spate of acquisitions naturally created an environment of technology-savvy self-starters who would inevitably feel the need to move on.

“Yahoo has made some major acquisitions, [bringing on] thousands of employees. And any time that happens, it’s going to be hard to sort everyone out and make sure everyone is aligned with the strategic assets going forward,” he said. “When that does happen, people who are motivated enough to start [a business] in the first place are going to be motivated to go out and start something else or join something else recently started.”

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