Yahoo VP Srinivasan Steps Down

Once considered the most powerful person in online search and Yahoo's fifth employee, Srinija Srinivasan, resigned from the web portal after a 15-year career.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

August 4, 2010

2 Min Read

Yahoo VP Srinija Srinivasan, once considered the most powerful person in online search, has resigned from the web portal after a 15-year career in which she pioneered a new profession: the web surfer.

Srinivasan announced Tuesday she was leaving Yahoo to devote more time to her "longstanding love for jazz." Srinivasan is chairwoman of the nonprofit San Francisco group SFJAZZ and is co-developing a performance and production center for creative music in New York City.

"With deepest respect and thanks for the past, I'm looking forward to what's next," Srinivasan said on Yahoo's corporate blog.

Srinivasan, Yahoo's fifth employee, was hired in 1995 by co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo. She eventually led an army of editors whose job was to hand-organize Yahoo's directory of websites.

Srinivasan's work made Yahoo the leading search engine in the late 90s, ahead of such rivals as AltaVista, Excite, Infoseek and Lycos. Yahoo's human-organized listing produced more relevant search results than automated systems that used algorithms and computer "spiders" that crawled web pages.

"When we started, Yahoo was a directory of websites," Srinivasan said. "We couldn't wait to see the amazing things people would do when they discovered the web. We pioneered a new profession: web surfer."

At its height, Yahoo became the gateway to the web for the majority of Internet users, making Srinivasan arguably the most powerful person in search. However, improvements in automated search technology led to Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin developing the PageRank algorithm that eventually surpassed Yahoo to dominate online search.

Srinivasan is leaving Yahoo as Chief Executive Carol Bartz is in the midst of a turnaround effort that shifts the company's focus from search to entertainment, news and other content and services that boost Yahoo's display-advertising business. Despite Bartz's efforts, Yahoo in the first quarter fell to number two in the display-advertising market with a 12.1% share, as Facebook rose to number one with a 16.2% share, according to ComScore.

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