Former Yahoo exec Fayyad resurfaces at start-up

Former Yahoo Inc. senior executive Usama Fayyad, who left the Internet giant amid an exodus of top talent in 2008, will become chief scientist at Internet advertising start-up Adknowledge Inc.

A representative for Adknowledge said Fayyad’s appointment will be announced early next month.

Fayyad, formerly Yahoo’s YHOO  chief data officer, joined the company in 2004 and left it as it was drawing heat for deflecting a sizable buyout offer from Microsoft Corp., and facing difficult questions about its future.

Since leaving Yahoo, Fayyad, a data-mining expert, has been involved in a venture capital fund aimed at start-ups in the Middle East, and founded Open Insights LLC, a Bellevue, Wash.-based data and business intelligence consultancy.

Kansas City, Mo.-based Adknowledge, founded in 2004, raised $48 million in venture capital funding in 2006. The company, which now has about 300 employees, operates an online advertising network that deploys predictive technology to tailor ads for particular Internet users.

Fayyad’s departure from Yahoo came at roughly the same time as those of former executives Jeff Weiner, who is now chief executive officer at LinkedIn Corp., and Qi Lu, who now heads Microsoft’s MSFT, +0.22%  search efforts.

Current Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz came on board in January 2009, and has sought to reinvigorate the company while narrowing its focus. Still, Yahoo has continued to shed executives, though Bartz describes the departures as a natural result of significant internal change.

Since Microsoft’s failed unsolicited buyout, worth some $45 billion, the two companies have formed a partnership that has Microsoft providing the search engine behind Yahoo Web pages, in a revenue-sharing arrangement.

Yahoo, which is seeking to stabilize its revenue while focusing on its display advertising business, now sports a market capitalization of roughly $21.5 billion.

During an appearance at a conference last month, Bartz downplayed the series of executive departures at Yahoo, which have occurred both before and after her hiring. The CEO suggested that it’s natural that ex-Yahoo employees would move on to help foster a new generation of companies.

“I think we’re a great training ground,” Bartz said.

Published by: MarketWatch, Inc. (


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