Struggling Yahoo sheds head scientist and leading exec

Shaking continues at fragile Yahoo, with two high-level leaders tumbling out amid a revamp of the company’s research unit, Yahoo Labs, and the firm just announcing shutdown of seven online magazines.

Chief scientist Ron Brachman, head of Yahoo Labs, and Ricardo Baeza-Yates, a vice-president of research and Yahoo Labs executive, will be leaving the company as it turns Yahoo Labs into Yahoo Research, according to Yoelle Maarek, a vice-president of research at the company.

The new unit will integrate researchers with product teams, and feature an independent research team working on its own and with product partners, Maarek said in a post on Tumblr, the blogging platform and social media site that is one of the company’s only products not in steep decline.

Yahoo Research will focus on innovation in Yahoo products, Maarek said in her Tuesday post. “We will [also] continue to publish scholarly works, participate in global scientific fora, and share our research around Yahoo-related findings that can benefit the larger community,” Maarek said.

Maarek is to lead the independent Yahoo Research team, she said.

Business Insider reported earlier this month that former employees of Yahoo Labs said it was riven by internal conflicts over the unit’s lack of a clear role within the struggling company. Yahoo Labs’ staffing had been cut 30 percent since mid-2014, the website reported.

Confidential internal data obtained by subscription website The Information revealed that Yahoo’s three key products, Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Search, and its home page, suffered striking drops in traffic over last year, the site reported today. Home page visitors dropped 16.5 percent, Yahoo Mail visits fell 11.5 percent and Yahoo Search declined 8.8 percent, according to the reported data comparing the first week of December 2014 to the first week of December 2015.

Meanwhile, more Yahoo employees will lose their jobs today, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, as the firm pursues its effort to cut its workforce by 15 percent, or 1,600 employees, by year’s end. The New York office will take the hardest hit in today’s cuts, the newspaper reported. However, later today Re/Code reported that Yahoo’s ax was falling in Los Angeles, as well as on its media entities. The website cited unnamed sources in asserting that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer had designated Wednesday as the day of the week for turfing workers. “This is absolutely not true,” a Yahoo spokesperson said Feb. 18 in an email.

Yahoo’s global editor-in-chief Martha Nelson in a Tumblr post today said the company had started phasing out seven digital magazines: Yahoo Food, Yahoo Health, Yahoo Parenting, Yahoo Makers, Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Autos and Yahoo Real Estate. Yahoo unveiled the Yahoo News magazines in January 2014.

Over the past year, Yahoo stock has fallen precipitously from a high of $46 in April to $29 today.


Photo: Yahoo headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015. (LiPo Ching/Bay Area News Group)


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