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Tumblr's Old Sales Boss Lee Brown Looks Like He'll Be BuzzFeed's New Sales Boss

He'll reunite with BuzzFeed business head Greg Coleman -- his old boss at Yahoo.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Lee Brown, who was the head of ad sales at Tumblr until last week, has a new job lined up: He is set to become chief revenue officer at BuzzFeed.

Sources say Brown, who ran Tumblr’s sales teams for more than two years, is in the process of finalizing his move. Assuming he takes it, he’ll fill a position vacated by Andy Wiedlin, who left BuzzFeed in December after a four-year stint.

I’ve asked BuzzFeed reps for comment.

The move would reunite Brown with BuzzFeed President Greg Coleman, a veteran sales exec who used to be Brown’s boss back at Yahoo, where Coleman used to head up sales. Coleman moved to BuzzFeed last summer, replacing longtime business head Jon Steinberg.

BuzzFeed remains one of digital media’s hottest properties, and says it generated more than $100 million in revenue last year. Now Brown looks ready to join Coleman in an effort to turn that heat into even more sales — and, crucially, a recurring ad business, as opposed to advertisers sampling a buzzy title.

BuzzFeed’s big idea has been to abandon banner ads altogether in favor of “native ads” that can run on, the company’s mobile site and apps — and even on other people’s properties.

This is a different task from the one Brown had at Tumblr, where he joined a company that had next to no revenue and no idea about how to build an ad business. He was just starting to construct one when Yahoo bought Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, and for a while after that, he had some degree of autonomy at Yahoo.

Last month, however, Yahoo merged Tumblr’s sales team into Yahoo’s core sales force — a source says Tumblr reps were given the opportunity to apply for Yahoo jobs — and Brown headed out.

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