Although Verizon is still six months away from finalizing its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo, the game of executive musical chairs has already begun.
Jim Norton’s move to Condé Nast leaves an open spot at Verizon’s AOL unit, where he was head of global media sales.
Macquarie Securities analyst Amy Yong said Norton’s departure from AOL was “not huge in the grand scheme of things,” but that the upcoming merger of AOL and Yahoo’s media brands could lead to other changes in management and company structure.
But much of this still lies well in the future.
“People fail to recognize that the deal won’t close until the first half of 2017, so we are still kind of premature in talking about combining both assets,” she said.
AOL chief executive officer Tim Armstrong said last month that there would be some job changes among both AOL and Yahoo employees, but that it was still too soon to make any decisions. “I’ve been impressed with the whole Yahoo team, and there is enthusiasm on both sides internally,” he said.
Between AOL and Yahoo, Armstrong added, “There are synergies, and I am sure there will be some job changes, but this deal is not about that.”
Yahoo’s Lisa Utzschneider, who is chief revenue officer, holds a similar role to the one that Norton leaves behind at AOL. She leads Yahoo’s global sales operations and came from advertising at Amazon and Microsoft. It is also still unclear what Yahoo chief executive officer Marissa Mayer will do, as she has said only that she will stay on to see the company through the transition.
A Yahoo spokeswoman said there is no news to share at this time.
“Yahoo remains an independently operated company through the close of the deal, which is expected to occur in [the first quarter of] 2017,” she said. “In the meantime, we remain completely focused on executing against our strategic plan outlined at the beginning of 2016. That means it’s business as usual.”
Yahoo could jive nicely with Verizon.
Yong wrote in a research note that the companies’ combined assets could allow it to more aggressively compete in ad-tech, mobile video and content and display advertising.
She added that “significant headcount reductions would also be expected as the combined assets focus on key content verticals.”