Yahoo has hired former News Corp internet chief Ross Levinsohn as an executive vice president in charge of the company’s US operations, a key post reporting to chief executive Carol Bartz.
Mr Levinsohn is well regarded as the man who oversaw Fox Interactive Media, which included MySpace, and worked on digital efforts at HBO and other companies. Most recently he has been at private equity firm Fuse Capital.
Mr Levinsohn’s appointment could ease investor concerns about turnover in the upper ranks at Yahoo, which has been grappling with a loss of user attention as social networks gain favour and rivals Microsoft and Google improve their search results.
But as a deal architect and investor, Mr Levinsohn could also stir the pot as investment banks and private equity firms – including Silver Lake – mull making an offer that could take Yahoo private or combine it with AOL.
It was Mr Levinsohn that bought MySpace for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, paying $580m for the parent company in 2005.
MySpace grew rapidly and News Corp more than earned the money back quickly through a search deal with Google. Only later was MySpace eclipsed by Facebook, the social networking website.
Yahoo said Mr Levinsohn would handle advertising, media activities and partnerships in its most important region.
“Ross has a phenomenal track record of executing digital media strategies that increase user engagement and, most importantly, accelerate topline growth,” Ms Bartz said in a written statement.
“I am confident that Ross’s strategic vision, in addition to his deep industry experience, will allow us to solidify our position as the largest digital media, content and communications business around the globe.”