Yahoo names new head of European strategy

Yahoo has named Pierre Chappaz president of its European consumer internet division Yahoo Europe. He will take charge of strategy...

Yahoo has named Pierre Chappaz president of its European consumer internet division Yahoo Europe. He will take charge of strategy for Yahoo's products, marketing and technology in Europe.

Chappaz was co-founder and chief executive officer of Kelkoo, a French comparison shopping service Yahoo acquired in March. Yahoo also appointed Kelkoo's former group managing director, Dominique Vidal, as chief operating officer of Yahoo Europe.

"Kelkoo has been one of the few successful internet companies in Europe, but focused only on the shopping market. Driving Yahoo Europe will be a much wider role," Chappaz said.

The biggest challenge will be drawing traffic to Yahoo's European properties, he said. In the US, "Yahoo is the number one internet site in terms of traffic, but that's not the case in Europe. Yahoo is in the top three in key markets, but it's not number one," he said.

Two areas Chappaz wants to develop are music streaming and broadband internet access.

Yahoo offers a co-branded broadband internet access service with BT in the UK. "This is something we would like to offer to other operators," he said, adding that he is confident the company will find other partners.

As for music, Chappaz needs local record labels' support to expand Yahoo's Launchcast personalised internet radio service into Europe.

"I think music is a very exciting opportunity. The legal download market is in its infancy in Europe," he said. Developing it "is mainly a question of negotiating music rights with the majors".

Beyond music, the company needs to develop content for Europeans, and adapt services to their needs, he said. "It's very important to bring in content for local markets."

Europe is not one market, though; it is a collection of national markets. "What we have in common in Europe is that we all know we are different, but we respect each other," said Chappaz.

Sensitivity to local ways is an area where Yahoo has faced problems in the past, but Chappaz sees his appointment as a sign of growing respect at Yahoo for international laws and customs.

Yahoo has fallen afoul of legislation in France, which bans speech inciting race hatred, and in Germany, where the sale of Adolf Hitler's book Mein Kampf is banned, and has defended itself by citing US laws protecting freedom of speech, which would allow both these things.

"In the past, it's been more about misunderstanding than anything else," he said. "I will make sure we respect local laws, and take action immediately if I see any kind of problem."

Chappaz will report to John Marcom, Yahoo's senior vice-president of international operations. Marcom has run Yahoo's European division since the departure last December of Mark Opzoomer, who had been managing director and regional vice-president of Yahoo Europe since September 2001.

One area of Yahoo's activities in Europe not under the control of Chappaz or Marcom is its paid search service, Overture. The European division of Overture reports directly to the US, according to Marcom.

The appointment of Chappaz will free Marcom to develop other areas of Yahoo, such as services for mobile phone users.

"My next priority is ensuring that our mobile product strategy is focused right," Marcom said.

He will also consider how to keep visitors to Yahoo amused. "There are a lot of questions about how we can work with other forms of entertainment," he said.

While relatively prosperous Europe is a fast-growing source of revenue for Yahoo, Marcom is also wondering how to approach markets in other parts of the world.

"We are starting to think about what kinds of products we can offer in, say, Vietnam, where our ability to monetise the services we offer in Europe is not as great," he said.

Peter Sayer writes for IDG News Service

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