Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's Next Big Hire Could Be A Big Surprise

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Photo: Giorgio Montersino

rumour has it new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wants to hire back a Yahoo executive who left the company shortly after the last CEO got the boot.39-year-old Rich Riley joined Yahoo way back in 1999, when Big Purple bought a startup he founded. His team eventually created the Yahoo Toolbar.

Riley stayed with the company for years, rising through the ranks. Eventually, he led the company’s advertising sales efforts in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. 

In April of this year, the Yahoo CEO at the time, Scott Thompson, gave Riley a very big job: “Executive Vice President of Yahoo! Americas.” In the job, he ran Yahoo ad sales.

But then Thompson got caught with an inaccuracy in his official bio – he in fact did not have a computer science degree – and, after much hand-wringing, he found himself out of a job.

A couple weeks later, after a 13-year career at the company, Riley followed Thompson out the door. He was replaced by a Google veteran, Michael Barrett.

In a memo to his team, Riley wrote:

After almost 14 years as a Yahoo!, I have made the difficult decision that it is time for my next adventure. I will be around for a couple of months to ensure a smooth transition. Yahoo! has been far more than a job for me. From the first time I walked into the office in Santa Clara in 1998, I was absolutely taken by the magic of this company, its talent, and its enormous potential. Through the dotcom boom, bust and subsequent events, I have ridden the purple wave with pride and enjoyed almost every minute of it. I’ve laughed, cried and fought the good fight alongside some of the most talented people with whom I could ever hope to work. I remain eternally bullish on the prospects for our company and will be cheering you on as a shareholder and proud alum.

Now, we’re hearing that Mayer wants Riley back at Yahoo. Or at least that she’s considering him in case Barrett leaves.

Is bringing Riley back a good idea?

A source who spent years working with Riley at Yahoo tells us this: “He knows Yahoo inside and out.”

“He’s not a good fit for sales.”

“He’s smart, but I worry about anyone who has been at Yahoo 13 years. [Could be] part of the problem more than the solution.”

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