Verizon Communications recently announced that Marni Walden, the executive vice president and president of global media, will leave the company in 2018.
Walden, the company’s top-ranking female executive, has played a big role in Verizon’s growth. She led Verizon’s connected car and telematics division, as well as the company’s foray into online video, called go90. Additionally, she negotiated a $350 million price cut for the purchase of Yahoo! Inc.’s Internet assets after extensive security breaches were revealed. With the addition of Yahoo, Walden and Tim Armstrong, CEO of Verizon’s AOL unit, created Oath, the company’s media and advertising group. Under Walden, Verizon’s new media revenue grew from zero to $7 billion in annual sales. Go90, though, failed to garner much buzz in a crowded landscape for online video.
Walden’s departure is not related to Yahoo’s disclosure this week that all of its users were potentially exposed to a 2013 security breach, said a person familiar with the matter. “She is leaving because she wants to pursue other opportunities,” said a company official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “This is not related at all to yesterday’s news.”
“Marni helped build our wireless business, starting as a sales representative in a store, and grew into an inspirational leader and role model for so many at Verizon,” CEO Lowell McAdam said.
“There might be some succession planning to it, but I think her interests are probably a much better fit in the tech world,” said Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst with Wells Fargo. “I think she’ll find some great opportunities there.”
Before taking up her current position in February 2015, Walden was executive vice president and president of product and new business innovation. And before that she was executive vice president and chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless after serving as chief marketing officer and president of Verizon’s 15-state Midwest area. Early in her career she was branch director in Colorado and Wyoming for AirTouch Cellular, which became part of Verizon Wireless through a series of mergers.
Armstrong will succeed Walden as the new executive vice president and the president of global media. Walden will leave the office in February and will take up the role of a strategic advisor at Verizon, effective December 31.