Yahoo’s chief marketing officer and head of media has left the company amid a report of a big shake-up brewing in Yahoo’s media group. Kathy Savitt, who was one of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s first big hires three years ago, will become president of digital for the Hollywood studio STX Entertainment starting next month.
Savitt’s exit comes as Yahoo’s media unit is about to undergo a major shake-up, according to a report by Re/code. The news is the latest sign of turmoil at Yahoo, three years into a turnaround effort that has yet to show any real signs of success. And it comes as investors appear to be losing patience with Mayer’s efforts to rebuild Yahoo into an internet power that might rival the likes of Google or Facebook.
Shares of Yahoo are now down roughly 40 percent from their 52-week high of $52.62. Savitt has been responsible for Yahoo’s marketing efforts as well as for Yahoo’s media unit, which includes a growing array of digital magazines and video efforts that feature high-profile stars such as Katie Couric.
When Mayer took over as CEO of the struggling Yahoo in 2012, Savitt was one of her first big hires. Before coming to Yahoo, Savitt had founded the e-commerce rewards company Lockerz and had also had big roles at American Eagle Outfitters and Amazon.
While Savitt enjoyed increasing responsibility at Yahoo under Mayer, Re/code says the relationship between the two is not as close as it once was. According to the report, which cites anonymous sources inside and outside the company, Savitt’s tenure at Yahoo has attracted increasing scrutiny within the company. And it comes amid some broader changes in Yahoo’s top ranks.
Yahoo’s revenue remains stagnant, and the company has not been able to create a new hit web service or mobile app that matches the popularity of rivals such as Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat.
Worse, Yahoo’s planned tax-free spinoff of its 15 percent stake in the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has recently run into trouble as the IRS declined to give the deal the advanced blessing Yahoo requested. Yahoo is still pushing ahead with the spin-off, which has been one of the main appeals of Yahoo’s stock for investors, but analysts say there is now an increased risk that the spin-off may not happen.
A Yahoo representative said the company appreciated Savitt’s contributions to the company over the past three years and wished her well.