Executive Testing Ground
In Silicon Valley, at least, it seems everyone has worked for Yahoo! for 15 minutes—which is several minutes longer than the tenures of some of the company’s chief executive officers. As investors and online commenters focus on the company’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, as well as what cuts she might have to make, there’s no denying that Yahoo’s combination of early success and slow decline has made it a testing ground for a generation of technology executives. “How do you grow that quickly?” asks Jeremy Ring, an early sales executive who’s now a member of the Florida Senate. “You’ll have to learn it, and that’s very valuable.”
Other former “Yahoos” agree. “It really was a bonding experience because we were working very closely with one another, around the clock,” says Michael Landau, who had several jobs at Yahoo before leaving in 2005. “In some respects it was like a fraternity.” Or perhaps, given how much former employees say they learned, an academic institution. Accordingly, here’s a handy Alumni Guide to Yahoo! Prep—where graduates do great things, even as their alma mater strives to remain relevant. Naturally, former Yahoos keep in touch, although for those who “bleed purple,” how some of them do is a touchy subject. “We all follow each other on Facebook,” Ring says.
Photograph by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Jeremy Ring Senior Director, Sales Program; Class of 2001
Now: Democratic member of the Florida Senate, representing part of Broward County
Alumni Update: Ring, who started Yahoo’s East Coast office out of his apartment in 1996, moved to Florida to get into politics. Inspired by experiences with one of his kids, he also runs Vivana, an online care-management site for children with behavioral conditions.
Katie Burke Mitic Vice President, General Manager, Personals; Class of 2004
Now: Platform and mobile marketing lead, Facebook
Alumni Update: Mitic became an executive-in-residence at Elevation Partners and Kleiner Perkins, then took a senior vice president gig at Palm—another company that has seen its share of departures. She joined Facebook in August 2010.
Michael Landau Senior Director, Brand Marketing; Class of 2005
Now: CEO, Drybar
Alumni Update: Landau went into business with his sister, Alli Webb, who founded Drybar, a salon chain that offers “No cut. No color. Just blowouts”—for $40. “I yearned to do something physical and tangible,” he says. And he often jokes that he hasn’t let his own lack of hair stop him.
Andrew Braccia Vice President, Consumer Web Search; Class of 2007
Now: Partner, Accel Partners
Alumni Update: At Yahoo, Braccia worked on the acquisitions of Inktomi, Overtune, Flickr, and others. He now keeps busy sitting on the boards of Cloudera and OpenX. His work on the venture-backed, Facebook-administered fbFund means he’s always looking to “friend” alums.
Cammie Dunaway Chief Marketing Officer; Class of 2007
Now: CEO, KidZania U.S., head of KidZania global marketing
Alumni Update: Dunaway graduated into video games, in the form of a job at Nintendo of America, then took her current job: ramping up KidZania’s U.S. division as the chain of sponsorship-heavy theme parks prepares to open a site in America.
Jennifer Dulski Vice President, General Manager, Local Markets and Commerce; Class of 2007
Now: Global head of product search/shopping, product management at Google
Alumni Update: Dulski ran a company that morphed from a social network for neighbors (FatDoor) into a local search service (Center’d) into the local-bargain service Dealmap, which was acquired by Google.
Qi Lu Executive Vice President, Engineering, Search and Advertising Technology Group; Class of 2008
Now: President, online services division, Microsoft
Alumni Update: Lu was ready to return to his native China when Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer recruited him to run the company’s search business. His new role still involves the tough task of competing with Google.
Jeffrey Weiner Executive Vice President, Network Division; Class of 2008
Now: CEO, LinkedIn
Alumni Update: Weiner became executive-in-residence at both Accel Partners and Greylock Partners. He went to LinkedIn as interim president in 2008, then rose quickly to the top job—which positions him perfectly for alumni networking.
Anne Toth Chief Trust Officer; Class of 2011
Now: Head of privacy at Google+
Alumni Update: Toth loves managing the flow of information: She announced her resignation in a Facebook status update, then announced her new gig in a Google+ post. She casually mentioned she would take only one day off between gigs—the kind of work ethic that no one in Silicon Valley keeps private.
Scott Thompson CEO, Class of 2012
Now: CEO, ShopRunner
Alumni Update: Thompson’s official Yahoo biography stated he had a college degree in accounting and computer science when he only had the first. (Thompson has said he never provided incorrect résumé information.) He made $7.3 million at Yahoo—$56,000 for each day he worked.