Meet the Woman In Charge of Bringing Verizon and Yahoo Together

AOL MAKERS Conference - Day 1
Photograph by Alberto E. Rodriguez — Getty Images

You’ll be hearing the name Marni Walden a lot more in coming weeks.

On Monday, Verizon announced that it is acquiring the core Internet assets of Yahoo for $4.83 billion in cash. While onlookers have plenty of opinions about what’s going to happen to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (Fortune‘s Dan Primack writes that she will likely remain with Yahoo through the end of the sale, which will close in Q1 2017), there’s another female executive making headlines.

According to a statement by Verizon (VZ), Marni Walden, the company’s EVP and president of the product innovation and new businesses organization, will oversee the integration of Yahoo (YHOO) into its new parent.

A spokesperson for Verizon noted that Walden was “always in this role,” referring to the fact that she oversaw Verizon’s acquisition of AOL for $4.4 billion last year. “My charter is to go stand up several businesses,” Walden said in an interview with Bloomberg earlier this month. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong runs one of those businesses, she said and noted that, “He is pretty independent.”

While Armstrong may be independent in running AOL, he technically reports to Walden and plays by her rules—including one that requires those who come late to meetings to sing karaoke tunes (Armstrong’s choice: John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”).

It’s a song selection befitting Walden as well, who grew up on a cattle ranch near Cheyenne, Wyo. “When I was growing up, I wanted to be either a cowboy or a ballet dancer,” she told Bloomberg. “But neither seemed like reasonable options.’’

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Walden fell into telecom somewhat accidentally, selling briefcase phones for General Cellular as her first job out of college. She quickly climbed up the ranks of the company’s sales organization before a series of moves—both on her part and the result of industry consolidation—landed her at Verizon in 2014.

Though she is relatively new to the company, her conversation with Recode about Verizon’s strategy last year seems almost prescient:

We didn’t get into the media company business just to be a single-digit market share player … We have much bigger aspirations of how we want to grow that business. Some can happen because of the scale Verizon brings, but we will continue to look at how we can scale and be a meaningful player from a double-digit market share, and by market share, I think about revenue. We definitely will look to build this business.

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