Opportunities are cascading around Scott Moore, the former head of Microsoft's online-content group who has been leading Yahoo's news and information unit since 2005.
For most people, it’s a rough time to be leaving a job and looking for work.
But opportunities are cascading around Scott Moore, the former head of Microsoft’s online-content group who has been leading Yahoo’s news and information unit since 2005.
Moore, 47, updated me on his status during a weekend trip to Seattle, clarifying some of the rumors that have swirled since Yahoo confirmed his departure Nov. 8.
Initially, Moore planned to leave and start a company, possibly based in Seattle.
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But on the advice of his mentor and former boss at Yahoo, broadcasting veteran Lloyd Braun, Moore decided to explore other options.
Apparently, there were plenty, so many that Moore’s now trying to figure out whether to start the company or take a job with a media company that may also want to pursue his concept.
Either way, it looks like Moore’s on his way to joining the ranks of former Seattle tech executives helping the big old media giants continue their evolution into Internet companies.
Others include Mika Salmi, the RealNetworks and Atom Films veteran who is now digital-media president at Viacom’s MTV Networks; and Jason Kilar, the former Amazon.com executive running the Hulu video service for a coalition of broadcast networks.
Moore wouldn’t name potential employers or give specifics about his venture, but he shared enough details to draw a rough picture.
It sounds like a large-scale media venture that would give big media companies, such as newspapers, new tools for gathering and presenting local news online and engaging readers.
Even after spending 14 years building Web news ventures, Moore’s still a fan of newspapers. He also thinks there’s still plenty of opportunity in a $41 billion industry that’s the source of most news content.
“If online media were a baseball game, we’d be in the third inning,” he said. “If you’re a big media company, you want to have a commanding lead before the seventh-inning stretch.”
Glad to hear there’s hope for the dinosaurs, especially from someone who has been running the biggest online news, sports, finance and entertainment sites for Yahoo.
Moore sees a blended future for news.
There always will be a need for professional reporting, he said, but it might make sense for media companies to draw material from readers in certain categories of news “where you can get more interesting, compelling content if you just give people a nudge.”
Media companies are still just learning to use technology to sharpen their focus, he said, offering an example from the summer Olympics.
Yahoo was monitoring search results and saw a surge of queries about the black tape on volleyball player Kerri Walsh’s shoulder.
It immediately assigned a writer to the story and, according to Moore, was first to explain her use of medical tape.
So perhaps his company would draw on search data to optimize news gathering and presentation?
He wouldn’t say but confirmed the company would involve software engineering.
Moore said it could be located in California — he’s been working from Yahoo’s Santa Monica offices — or in Seattle, where he still has a home, family and a big network of friends — and potential employees — in the tech community.
Moore was even more tight-lipped about the tortuous merger negotiations between his current and former employers. He said he wasn’t involved and that it didn’t lead to his decision to leave Yahoo at the end of this year.
Yahoo may have initially rejected Microsoft’s overtures, but it still likes Microsoft’s employees.
For Moore’s replacement, Yahoo hired his former co-worker, Jeff Dossett, head of the MSN media network.
Dossett is joining former MSN ad boss Joanne Bradford, who came to Yahoo in September.
The way things are going with Yahoo, they could end up working for Microsoft one of these days.
Meanwhile, Moore’s loving his status as a free agent for the first time after working 11 straight years in Redmond and three at Yahoo.
“It’s a little scary, given the economy,” he said, “but it’s also exciting to consider the possibilities.”
Brier Dudley’s column appears Mondays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.