Yahoo Faces Fresh Brain Drain

Just after putting an end to its damaging face-off with Microsoft, at least for the time being, Yahoo has been hit with a fresh crisis. Several senior executives have donned their walking shoes in recent days, amid rumors of a forced slow-down in hiring to boost company performance.

Jeff Weiner, EVP Network Division, has left the company to become executive-in-residence with venture capital firms Accel Parnters and Greylock Partners. He had recently been on paternity leave following the birth of a daughter, Sophia.

Other executives are also on the way out: Dr. Usama Fayyad, the company’s EVP of research and strategic data solutions, and Jeremy Zawodny, a long-time technology lead who over the years used his personal blog to staunchly defend the company’s product initiatives.

The departures come as rumors swirl that Yahoo had instituted a partial hiring freeze. The Silicon Alley Insider blog published a tip this morning, purportedly from a Yahoo manager, asserting the company had not put a dead stop to hiring, but rather would allow department heads to fill only 10 percent of vacant positions. The decision may indicate financial weakness at the firm ahead of its Q2 close.

Yahoo did not return calls seeking comment on the departures or hiring freeze. However, in an e-mail missive sent to Yahoo staff, President Sue Decker said Jeff Weiner’s direct reports would report to her “on an interim basis.”

Those reports include the heads of Yahoo’s consumer products departments, including Mail, Web Search, Answers, Shopping, News, Local, and Flickr.

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