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As Ad Sales Continue to Suffer, Ned Brody Also Poised to Depart Yahoo

All these executive musical chairs are being played against a backdrop of declining sales for the ad unit of the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

As Re/code reported earlier this week, Yahoo’s head of Americas Sales Lisa Utzschneider has done a dramatic overhaul of its key advertising sales staff.

Among the departures we reported were expected as part of the reshuffle is Peter Foster, a longtime ad exec there who runs something called solutions development. And now sources said Americas head Ned Brody is also set to finally head out the door soon.

It’s really just the shoe that has not dropped as yet, since Brody has been sitting in limbo at the Silicon Valley Internet giant. He was essentially sidelined by Utzschneider when she arrived late last year from a top sales job at Amazon. Relations between Mayer and Brody have been frosty, according to everyone I spoke to.

The well-regarded Utzschneider is the third top sales exec hired by CEO Marissa Mayer to try to turn around Yahoo’s troubled ad business.

Those many executive changes have proved costly. Former Google exec Henrique De Castro was fired outright by Mayer in early 2014, after she had lavishly touted his hiring in 2012. Still, he got a massive payday, including a $60 million severance package, which was much criticized by Wall Street.

It’s unclear what payout Brody will be getting. But he has not been doing much of anything for Yahoo for a while, according to a myriad of sources inside and outside the company. I noted earlier that he seemed “to have joined the witness protection program, according to those in the ad market who have not seen him in a very long time … and waits around in what insiders describe as a fire-me-and-pay-me standoff with Mayer.”

It certainly cost Mayer a lot to get him, after a fight with AOL when Yahoo poached Brody from there in 2013. According to sources, AOL got numerous and pricey concessions from Yahoo after some saber-rattling over the talent raid.

All these executive musical chairs are being played against a backdrop of declining sales for the ad unit at Yahoo, which has seen big declines in its once powerful premium sales. While Mayer has tried hard to move the business to new markets — video, programmatic, native and mobile — the delta is still too wide and the company’s core performance has been hurt badly. It has been a secular change that is not really Mayer’s fault, although the many leadership shifts she has made in the sale arena has not been very helpful to the issue.

The departure of longtime ad vet Lee Brown from Yahoo’s Tumblr division to a job at BuzzFeed earlier this year has been devastating to already challenged sales there, for example, said sources.

No surprise then that people at Yahoo with knowledge of the situation said that the upcoming quarter is coming in weak again, as Mayer and Utzschneider seek to make the changes needed to turn it around.

Brody did not respond to several efforts to contact him. And I have given up trying to get Yahoo’s attention — do you blame me? — since the company declines to give us briefings on even the fluffy fun stuff like the NFL!

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