With Yahoo's Top Ad Exec Prashant Fuloria Leaving, Who’s Left?

PrashantFuloriaYahoo received yet another blow Friday with the departure of Prashant Fuloria, its SVP of advertising products and engineering, just shy of a year after he was appointed to the role.

Enrique Munoz Torres, who leads Yahoo’s search products, will inherit Fuloria’s responsibilities, including oversight of the Gemini and BrightRoll platforms, Yahoo’s advertiser-facing products.

Fuloria’s exit stage left, first reported by Re/code, is the most recent in a spate of exec departures from Yahoo’s ad platforms business.

Other recent notables who no longer call Yahoo home include head of the Americas Ned Brody; former BrightRoll exec Bruce Falck, who since joined Turn as CEO; and Scott Burke, who spent nearly a decade with Yahoo, first as VP of engineering and then as SVP of advertising and data platforms.

It didn’t take long for Fuloria, who came along with Yahoo’s acquisition of mobile analytics company Flurry in July 2014, to rise through the ranks. In January, Fuloria, whose background includes products and commerce leadership posts at both Facebook and Google, was promoted to manage all of Yahoo’s engineering and product efforts around advertising, a role in which he reported directly to CEO Marissa Mayer.

But now that Fuloria is packing his bags – Yahoo said in a statement that he’s leaving the company in order to “go back to his startup roots” – the question is: Who’s left?
 Fuloria was Mayer’s right-hand man on the ads side of Yahoo’s business, and without him the ad talent at Yahoo is a getting a little thin on the ground.

Still in their posts, at least for now, are CRO and Amazon vet Lisa Utzschneider; former Flurry president and CEO Simon Khalaf, Yahoo’s SVP of publisher products; and former BrightRoll CEO and founder Tod Sacerdoti, now VP of display and video advertising products. Yahoo acquired video DSP BrightRoll in November 2014.

Brian Silver, who formerly headed up the now-defunct Right Media Exchange, is still knocking around Yahoo’s corridors as VP of global business planning and operations for the company’s communications products.

But the Yahoo exodus – and Fuloria’s departure in particular – appear to signal that the linchpin players tasked with righting the Yahoo ship no longer have faith in Mayer’s ability to guide the turnaround.

Mayer’s plan for Yahoo has most recently centered on four core aspects of the ads and media business: mobile, video, native and social, or Mavens, as Mayer likes to call it.

There’s nothing actually wrong with that approach. The problem, rather, came in the implementation, said Scott Galloway, an NYU Stern School of Business professor and L2 founder, in a recent interview with Bloomberg TV.

“To [Mayer’s] credit, her strategy was the right strategy – some bold acquisitions and a focus on mobile – but the execution didn’t work, and as a result we have a core asset that is less than zero,” Galloway said, noting that the board’s intent to abort the planned Alibaba spin in favor of a reverse spinoff of Yahoo’s core media and advertising business instead is recognition that her strategy isn’t working.

Galloway predicted that Mayer would likely gracefully bow out within the next six months to a year in order to “spend more time with her family,” at which point a sale of Yahoo is the most plausible outcome.

A number of potential suitors have been floated as potential buyers, including Verizon, NBC, Softbank and AT&T.

 

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