Yahoo poaches Amazon's top sales exec

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Lisa Utzschneider, second from right, speaking last month at Advertising Week
Lisa Utzschneider, second from right, speaking last month at Advertising Week

Lisa Utzschneider is new vice president of sales for the digital media company

Yahoo has lured Amazon’s top sales executive, Lisa Utzschneider, to be its new vice president of sales for the Americas, the company confirmed yesterday.

Utzschneider had been Amazon Media Group’s vice president of global advertising sales. She is now responsible for Yahoo sales teams throughout North and South America, reporting to directly to Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer.

The move is a coup for Mayer. While there has been mounting pressue from investors and analysts in recent months over the direction of the company, Mayer has lived up to her billing as an ace recruiter since she took the top job in 2012.

Utzschneider is the latest big name Mayer has poached, joining a list that includes former Google chief operating officer Henrique De Castro and Dylan Casey, a former Googler who was director of product management at Path, and most recently former Washington Post chief revenue officer Kevin Gentzel to be its head of sales.

Business Insider reports that Utzschneider will have a much larger budget to play with in her new gig. Amazon keeps its advertising numbers close to the chest, but eMarketer estimates that it generated $840 million in ad revenue last year. Utzschneider’s strong track record in advertising could complement Mayer’s current focus on content offerings.

Prior to her stint at Amazon, which began in 2008, Utzschneider spent 10 years leading advertising initiatives at Microsoft.

"Lisa has a demonstrated track record as a leader and as a business builder, focused on creating and expanding sales relationships as well as scaling technological innovation," Mayer said in a statement. "She brings unique strengths to Yahoo in terms of identifying new opportunities to maximize the value of advertising in a rapidly expanding and evolving media landscape."

Yahoo is far from the only company trying to figure out how to navigate the rapidly evolving media landscape, but having an exec with Utzschneider’s credentials could be a step in the right direction.  

"I look forward to working with this team and with Yahoo's technology platforms to deliver value to advertisers and to delight consumers with unique and personalized ads," Utzschneider said.

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