Posted March 24, 2009 11:05 am by with 2 comments

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Yahoo has announced the official appointment of Elisa Steele as Chief Marketing Officer, raising the question: Is Yahoo looking to run another company’s playbook?

Yahoo hadn’t seen fit to fill the CMO role since Cammie Dunaway left the company in 2007, and now not only has CEO Carol Bartz appointed one, but she’s appointed someone cut from the same cloth. You see, Steele was poached from NetApp–where Bartz serves on the BoD–and the CMO’s resume includes a stint at Sun Microsystems–where Bartz also previously worked.

What does this all mean for Yahoo? Either it’s coincidental and the company is simply hiring the best people for the job, or Bartz plans on running the same plays called by Sun and/or NetApp. The latter, is not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes you wonder why Bartz didn’t appoint someone that contrasted her own management experience.

Bartz certainly sounds convinced Steele can get the job done, saying, “The Yahoo! brand is one of our most valuable and strategic assets, and Elisa is charged with unlocking its potential globally. Elisa has an outstanding track record in leading global marketing, branding, and communications teams, and we’re excited to welcome her to Yahoo!’s executive staff.”

And the CEO also appears to pre-empt any talk that the CMO position was resurrected simply to bring in an old friend. “Yahoo!’s marketing strategy and teams have become decentralized over time – hiring Elisa in the CMO role will quickly mobilize our plan to integrate the function globally and more effectively represent the Yahoo! brand,” said Bartz in a statement.

Other questions to ponder. Will Bartz appoint a NetApp/Sun alumni to the vacant CFO position? Will NetApp kick Bartz from its board for swiping its top marketing exec?

  • New CEOs often hire people they have worked with in the past. I think this hire sends a signal to merger proponents that Bartz has little to no intention of entertaining any serious discussion with Microsoft about merging or selling assets to the software giant.

    Michael Martinez’s last blog post..Using Translation Tools For Search

  • @Michael – that’s a good point. Why recreate a CMO role if you plan on selling the company?