Yahoo loses two high-ranking execs

Yahoo has lost two key executives.

Yahoo has lost two key executives so far this month, departures that directly affect the company's product search service and its outreach to external software developers.

Toni Schneider, vice president of the Yahoo Developer Network since 2004, is leaving to become chief executive officer of startup Automattic, a provider of blogging services, Schneider announced in his personal blog last week (http://toni.schneidersf.com/).

Previously, Schneider was the CEO of Oddpost, which Yahoo acquired in 2004. At Yahoo, he significantly broadened the scope of the company's developer network, a Yahoo spokeswoman said. "He has been a wonderful asset and we wish him the best," she said. Schneider will be at Yahoo through the end of January, she said.

Meanwhile, SideStep, a search engine for travel-related information, announced this week that it has hired as its president and CEO Rob Solomon, general manager and vice president of the group in charge of the Yahoo Shopping comparison shopping engine.

Solomon, who worked at Yahoo for about six years, starts on Monday at SideStep, whose direct competitors include Yahoo's FareChase service and America Online's Pinpoint Travel service.

"It was time to move on for me and enter the next phase of my career. I've always wanted to be a CEO," Solomon said, adding that he left Yahoo on very good terms.

His experience these past three years leading the Yahoo Shopping group will help him in his new role, as will prior work he did in Yahoo's travel business, he said.

SideStep attracted him because he considers it a very innovative company and because of its position at the intersection of travel, search and commerce, he said.

Compounding the effect of these two high-profile recent departures, Yahoo is also struggling on Wall Street. Its stock (YHOO) continued its slide for a second straight day, closing down 2.42 percent, at US$34.33, on the Nasdaq exchange on Thursday.

That's on top of a steep 12.3 percent decline on Wednesday, when investors reacted negatively to both Yahoo's financial performance in the fourth quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2005, and the company's future outlook.

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