Yahoo names investment banker CFO

Company taps Blake Jorgensen, co-founder of investment bank Thomas Weisel, to replace Susan Decker.
Written by Dawn Kawamoto, Contributor
Yahoo announced Tuesday it has hired Blake Jorgensen, co-founder of boutique investment bank Thomas Weisel Partners, as its new chief financial officer.

Jorgensen, who co-founded Thomas Weisel Partners in 1998, is scheduled to join Yahoo around June 4. Jorgensen will replace Susan Decker, who was named head of Yahoo's advertiser and publisher group in December.

The appointment of Jorgensen comes at a time when the company is struggling against archrival Google. Yahoo has lost its once dominant role in search--its core business--and faces a perception that it's lost out on several significant business opportunities, such as the acquisition of the popular video-sharing site YouTube.

Jorgensen's "broad financial, operating and strategic experience, which complements the deep financial expertise of our existing team, will make him a valuable addition to Yahoo's senior management," CEO Terry Semel said in a statement.

While at Thomas Weisel, Jorgensen served as chief operating officer as well as co-director of investment banking. Prior to Thomas Weisel, he served as managing director of corporate finance at Montgomery Securities.

Jorgensen said he is looking forward to joining a finance team that has "deep functional experience."

His experience includes assessing companies' financials to take them public as well as evaluating them for acquisitions from either the buyers' or sellers' perspective.

"The CFO's role these days, especially at larger firms, is more than just running the numbers," said Jeetil Patel, an analyst with Deutsche Bank North America. "It's about looking at the underlying returns you get on your different businesses and the acquisitions you've made. His background at an investment bank fits well with the financial side, as well as the strategic side."

Yahoo has a history of making a number of acquisitions each year, the latest being Right Media, which operates an automated online ad exchange.

"The position of CFO is always involved in a lot of mergers and acquisitions and (Jorgensen's) hiring says we can expect more of the same," said Denise Garcia, an analyst with A.G. Edwards & Sons.

While Garcia applauds the hiring of Jorgensen, she said she wished Yahoo had filled its newly created audience position first.

"My concern is that they have not hired someone to fill the audiences role...and arguably that is one of its most important parts of the business," Garcia said. "Yahoo has more repeat visitors than any of the other sites and a strong relationship with their audience. With no one in charge of it, my concern is their strength there could weaken."

During Yahoo's first-quarter earnings call in April, Semel indicated he expected to fill the post in the next few months.

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