Microsoft and Yahoo Duel Over Who Can Lose the Most Media Executives

When they aren’t letting each other know how little they think of each other, Microsoft and Yahoo seem to be engaged in another contest: Who can lose the most Internet executives?

Yahoo just announced the latest of a long string of high-level departures, top media executive Scott Moore, senior vice president in charge of Yahoo’s U.S. Audience properties. Replacing Moore, who hailed from Microsoft before joining Yahoo, will be Jeff Dossett, who most recently was executive producer and general manager for Microsoft’s MSN Media Network. Moore’s departure, as well as Dossett’s arrival, were first reported by Boomtown’s Kara Swisher, who also noted that Dossett was close to Joanne Bradford, a former MSN executive who joined Yahoo in September as its sales chief. Update: Advertising Age also reports that former Chief Marketing Officer Eric Hadley, who once worked for Bradford at MSN, has joined Yahoo as vice president of U.S. field marketing.

Alan Warms, general manager of Yahoo News, also is leaving Yahoo, to be replaced by Neeraj Khemlani, Yahoo’s vice president of programming. In July, Kevin Johnson left as head of Microsoft’s Platforms and Services Business.

However much Yahoo is struggling, and however much money Microsoft has to keep hammering away at the Internet media business, it’s hard not to notice that the flow of these executives goes from north to south. Even if Yahoo is laying off 1,500 people and even if it can’t find a way to pull the trigger on a long-rumored deal to buy Time Warner’s AOL unit, it clearly has persuaded at least some Internet executives it has more to offer than Microsoft.

Interestingly, Dossett, according to Yahoo’s surprisingly detailed press release, took two years off from Microsoft to climb Mount Everest in 2004—and did so for a second time just last May. Do I even need to make the comparison to his new job at Yahoo? No, not quite fair: Yahoo’s media properties continue to be strong in many areas such as finance and sports. But with the mainstay display ads that support these sites slowing considerably as the economy tanks, Dossett’s job will be—I just can’t stop myself—a long uphill slog.

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