Kara Swisher

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Dozen-Year Yahoo Tech Veteran Ash Patel to Take “Time Off”


Longtime Yahoo tech leader Ash Patel is taking some time off until early 2010.

Yahoo (YHOO) confirmed the break to BoomTown.

In recent days, many inside the company had mistakenly thought the 44-year-old EVP for Product Architecture & Strategy was departing the company for good.

Actually, it’s more of a sabbatical for Patel (pictured here). But it could turn out Patel will not come back from it at all.

For now, Yahoo is saying he will.

“Ash will be taking some well-deserved time off to spend time with his family,” said Yahoo in a statement to me. “He will be returning to Yahoo! in early 2010.”

In his latest of many jobs at Yahoo, where he has been employed since 1996, Patel works with its products organization, run by CTO and EVP of Products Ari Balogh, “to drive the development of a comprehensive product strategy, as well as potential strategic deals, helping to evolve and evaluate its audience product and technology strategy.”

It’s one of many leadership positions Patel has had at Yahoo, as the company has reorganized many times over the years, including as EVP of its Audience Products Division, EVP of Platforms and Infrastructure, SVP of Platform Engineering and chief product officer.

He also played a key role as architect of several major Yahoo products, such as MyYahoo!, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Messenger, Yahoo! Chat and many others.

In fact, Patel ended up in a major exec role in a reorg that former Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang did in the summer of 2008.

But the appointment of Patel to head the new Global Products group was greeted with some internal dissent, since many were pushing for faster change and new management at the Silicon Valley icon.

Yang was said to have insisted that Patel remain on as planned. He reported directly to President Sue Decker.

Patel stayed on after new CEO Carol Bartz got the top job in January, which was the subject of much interest among longtime Yahoo staff, since he has been one of the few true Yahoo veterans left in a high-ranking role.

In another reorg in late February, this time by Bartz, Patel got his latest title and was placed under Balogh.

Here is a video interview I did with Patel last December about the launch of some open and social networking initiatives at Yahoo (SVP Tapan Bhat, who had once reported to Patel, is also in the video):