With Finnigan, Yahoo Gets On the Inside Track

By: Carl Sullivan

Knight Ridder Digital President Dan Finnigan abruptly departed last week to accept a job at a newspaper-industry competitor, Yahoo! Inc.’s HotJobs.com. Finnigan will move from San Jose, Calif., to New York, where he will serve as senior vice president for Yahoo! and executive vice president and general manager of HotJobs, a major online jobs board that industry leader Monster.com tried to buy last year.

Finnigan’s departure provides HotJobs with inside knowledge of the operations at competitor Reston, Va.-based CareerBuilder, which is jointly owned by Knight Ridder and the Tribune Co. Along with Tribune Interactive President David Hiller, Finnigan was actively involved in directing the strategy of CareerBuilder, the online jobs partner of Knight Ridder, Tribune, and Belo newspapers.

In a statement, Knight Ridder said it was “disappointed to lose Dan, but accept[s] his personal decision to make a career change … Tony Ridder intends to announce a new president for Knight Ridder Digital in the very near term.” Spokeswoman Cynthia Funnell said Knight Ridder Digital remains on track to meet its goal of profitability by the end of this year. She pointed out that a strong executive team remains in place at the company.

Forrester Research analyst Charlene Li said Finnigan will give HotJobs “knowledge of how to win against newspapers.” She pointed out that Yahoo! has said that it plans to take market share in recruitment ads away from papers.

CareerBuilder spokesman Barry Lawrence insisted that it’s business as usual at CareerBuilder, which has almost completed the task of integrating Headhunter.net into the CareerBuilder site. CareerBuilder’s new executive team is in the process of relocating to Chicago, where the company probably will be headquartered, eventually. Lawrence reported that CareerBuilder will soon launch a new program for blue-collar jobs, including a telephone-response system. Monster.com is rolling out a similar program.

Finnigan leaves just as Knight Ridder completed the creation of a single platform for all of its Real Cities Web sites. The platform has been criticized by some participating papers as too slow and inflexible.

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