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Yahoo Exec in Charge of Lucrative Japan Asset Departing Company Amid APAC Woes

The Yahoo Japan equity investment now represents about one-third of the Silicon Valley Internet company's value.

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Naoko Okumoto, a VP at Yahoo in charge of monitoring its key Yahoo Japan business, is leaving the company, according to multiple sources.

Based at its Sunnyvale headquarters, Okumoto has been with Yahoo since 2000, and has served most recently as the liaison between the Silicon Valley Internet giant and its lucrative Japanese asset and has worked on other strategic partnerships.

Okumoto is one of several top execs exiting the Asia-Pacific unit at Yahoo, which is run by another longtime exec, Rose Tsou, from offices in Taiwan. Stuart Sayers, CEO of Yahoo Australia, left in January for a top regional job at Amazon, for example, within a year of arriving.

The change comes amid troubling business issues for the Yahoo APAC region, where sales performance took a serious hit last year. It was the worst performing global region in all of Yahoo, which in general has shown lack of growth across all of its core businesses under the leadership of CEO Marissa Mayer.

Mayer has been attempting to turn the company around, an effort that has been bolstered by the increasing value of its Asian assets, including Yahoo Japan and China’s Alibaba Group. Those ownership stakes have boosted Yahoo’s stock dramatically, although its core business has continued to lag.

This contrasts to other Internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, that are seeing strong revenue increases, especially in Asia.

Yahoo APAC GAAP revenue dropped 23 percent from $1.1 billion in 2013 to $814 million. Minus traffic acquisition costs, the decline was $831 million to $761 million for the year and $217 million to $195 million for the most recent quarter. Its global share of revenue declined from 18 percent to 16 percent, as you can see from the Yahoo investor chart below.

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The reasons for the declines have to do with search issues related to its transition to Microsoft search, part of Yahoo’s partnership deal with the software giant. Yahoo had recently tried to delay the rollout of paid search in Taiwan and Hong Kong via legal means, but was unsuccessful. Overall advertising sales are also suffering.

Okumoto’s job, according to her LinkedIn profile (where she is still listed as a Yahoo employee), is as a VP for international product and business management for its strategic partners.

But she played a much more important role than that description. She noted on LinkedIn that she led Yahoo’s efforts at Yahoo Japan, “a JV between Yahoo and Softbank [that] represents over 38 percent of the market value of Yahoo Inc.”

Actually, that stake is about 29 percent of Yahoo overall, now worth $11.3 billion, according to Yahoo, although net income from the equity interest — a 35 percent ownership of Yahoo Japan — declined 11 percent year over year, from $346 million to $307 million.

Yahoo has considered spinning off or selling its Yahoo Japan stake many times in a variety of complex transactions, none of which have happened (as yet).

A query to a Yahoo spokesperson is at yet unreturned.

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