Yahoo, Kozmo lure old-line execs

Yahoo's new head of North American operations comes from Reader's Digest Association, and Kozmo has snagged a CFO from BMG Entertainment.

3 min read
Yahoo and Kozmo.com have done what other dot-coms have recently failed to accomplish: attract executives from established, non-technology companies.

Yahoo, the Internet media giant whose stock was recently sent into a tailspin because of slowing advertising revenue, said on Tuesday it has tapped Gregory Coleman as executive vice president of its North American operations. Coleman was senior vice president of publicly held Reader's Digest Association and president of U.S. Magazine Publishing. He was responsible for the company's far-ranging magazine properties, including its flagship Reader's Digest magazine.

Troubled Internet delivery service Kozmo meanwhile announced that Tom McIntyre, the former chief financial officer of recording giant BMG Entertainment, has joined the company as its senior vice president and CFO.

These new appointments come as many high-profile executives are defecting from the dot-com arena. On Monday, Christopher Payne, Amazon.com's vice president of technology products--overseeing consumer electronics items such as wireless phones, software and video games--said he will leave the company for personal reasons.

Other high-profile flights from the sector include that of Yahoo's chief executive, Tim Koogle, who last month said he would resign from his post as CEO but remain as chairman. Anil Singh, who led the Yahoo's advertising and marketing efforts, announced his resignation last week.

"Strong management with a traditional media background might be what the company needs to guide it through the next phase of its life," Kathleen Heaney, an analyst at BlueStone Capital, wrote about Yahoo in a report Tuesday. "This recent hire seems to validate this."

Many of the executives who helped ingrain upstart Internet brands into the minds of mainstream America are finding that the current harsh business environment may require new types of leadership. Most executives are also finding that the once appealing compensation packages, stuffed with stock options, have been rendered worthless by the slide in the Nasdaq and, more specifically, a flight by investors from Internet stocks.

Yahoo and Kozmo seem to have homed in on the kind of executive that may be needed in this business cycle, but they did not disclose the compensation packages for their new recruits.

Yahoo, which faces a stalled Internet advertising market, has tapped someone with 25 years of experience overseeing, among other things, advertising, circulation and financial initiatives for the magazine division at Reader's Digest. Coleman is former chairman of the Advertising Council and serves on the boards of directors of the Magazine Publishers of America and the Advertising Council.

Coleman's "proven track record in the publishing industry and...relationships in the advertising community will allow us to continue to innovate and strengthen our leadership position," Jeff Mallett, Yahoo's president, said in a statement. His "broad base of experience, results-oriented determination and fresh perspective will bring great value to Yahoo's business."

McIntyre will oversee Kozmo's finances and its legal and human resources tasks. McIntyre resigned from BMG, unit of German media conglomerate Bertelsmann, in January. At the time, a company spokesman said he wanted to pursue "new interests."

Taking the financial reigns at privately held Kozmo is likely to be a challenge. The company, one of the last Internet-only delivery companies, recently expanded its focus to include business-to-business operations. Kozmo has slashed its work force three times since August, cutting 60 employees as recently as late February.

Kozmo, like other e-commerce companies that deliver goods and services ordered on the Internet, finds itself on a rocky road. Its primary rival in New York, Urbanfetch.com, closed it e-commerce service last year. Most Internet grocers are either ailing, such as Peapod.com and Webvan, or have already failed, such as Streamline.com and ShopLink.com.

McIntyre succeeds Gerry Burdo, who was promoted to chief executive in July 2000.

McIntyre "comes to Kozmo with three decades of experience monitoring rapid business expansion while maintaining disciplined financial and operational control," Burdo said in a statement.

Kozmo operates in nine U.S. markets and is headquartered in New York.