Yahoo Puts Finances in New Hands

Seeking to turn the company’s finances around as competition in the online advertising market intensifies, Yahoo  named Blake Jorgensen as CFO.

Jorgensen, the co-founder of Thomas Weisel Partners, will join Yahoo June 4 and report to Yahoo Chairman and CEO Terry Semel. Jorgensen will replace Susan Decker, who will turn her attention solely to her role as head of the advertiser and publisher group.

Blake’s task will be to right the company’s financial status, which has been compromised by delays in the rollout of the Panama and increased competition with Google , AOL  and Microsoft in the online ad space.

Though Yahoo grew sales 22 percent to $6.4 billion in 2006, the company reported 2006 profit of $751 million, a 60 percent drop from the $1.9 billion in profit it declared the year before. Those results, as well as Google’s growing dominance in the online ad market, prompted talks of a merger between Microsoft and Yahoo.

Semel expressed confidence in Jorgensen’s ability.

“Blake has a strong track record of building and running a successful investment banking franchise serving many clients in the Internet and technology industries,” Semel said today in a statement.

Jorgensen co-founded Thomas Weisel Partners in 1998, serving as COO, co-director of investment banking and a member of the executive committee. Jorgensen also managed the firm’s relationships with investors and oversaw several strategic alliances with international partners.

The fact that Jorgensen has been near and dear to investors is what attracted Yahoo to Jorgensen as it seeks to turn around its fortunes.

The change has been expected since December, when Yahoo triggered a significant restructuring.

Changes included the departure of COO Dan Rosensweig and the reorganization of Yahoo’s business structure into three operating groups: advertiser and publisher; audience; and technology.

Decker became head of the advertiser and publisher at that time and has been pulling duties for CFO and that position ever since.

Semel said Jorgensen’s appointment will free up Decker to focus on her role, which includes “building on the recent momentum we’ve achieved with Panama, major new partnerships and our agreement to acquire Right Media.”

The Right Media buy for $680 million in cash and stock was a return shot across the bow of Google, which purchased DoubleClick last month. Microsoft earlier this month bought mobile ad provider ScreenTonic.

AOL responded today by acquiring Third Screen Media for an undisclosed sum.

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