Yahoo Names New CMO, Aims to Centralize Role

Yahoo has named Elisa Steele, former marketing exec at NetApp, as its new chief marketer. The firm’s new CEO Carol Bartz has a connection to Steele through enterprise application firm NetApp, where Bartz serves on the board of directors. In hiring Steele, Bartz indicated a desire to centralize Yahoo’s marketing teams and strategy.

Starting today, Steele will lead Yahoo’s worldwide marketing strategy including brand and audience marketing, corporate communications, and privacy policy. Steele will report to Bartz.

Yahoo has not had a permanent chief marketing officer since October 2007, when Cammie Dunaway resigned from the post after a four-year stint. According to a Yahoo spokesperson, Bartz decided to re-establish the position.

The new CMO hails from NetApp, where she served as SVP of corporate marketing, handling a similar set of responsibilities. Steele also has management experience at Sun, AT&T, iPlanet eCommerce Solutions, and JavaSoft.

“Yahoo!’s marketing strategy and teams have become decentralized over time; hiring Elisa in the CMO role will quickly mobilize our plan to integrate the function globally and more effectively represent the Yahoo brand,” noted Bartz in a company statement.

Steele’s is the first major executive hire announced by Yahoo since Bartz took over the foundering company in January. The move could signal a shift at Yahoo toward recruiting from outside the digital media industry. Soon after her appointment as CEO, Bartz, previously CEO at design software firm Autodesk, suggested that her own tech-centric background will not prevent her from understanding the media market. “Media versus technology, that’s a lot of nonsense,” she said during a press conference in January.

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