YP has made a really interesting hire. Stu MacFarlane was hired in July (and announced this morning) as the new “Executive Vice President of Consumer Platforms.” MacFarlane was the CEO of InsiderPages before it was sold to IAC years ago. He was also at IdeaLab (among other places), which launched InsiderPages.
Here’s how the press release describes MacFarlane’s role:
As EVP of Consumer Platforms, MacFarlane is responsible for all aspects of YP’s consumer properties which reach more than 70 million users per month, including community building and innovations that drive additional value to consumers to help make informed decisions about local businesses, further developing YP’s mobile experience, and building out additional opportunities for consumers to connect more directly with businesses.
I spoke to MacFarlane yesterday and he expressed excitement about the new position and said there would be things to announce in the near term but couldn’t discuss product evolution right now.
I asked about whether YP would be building out new non-flagship experiences or whether his work would focus on the existing YP properties. He confirmed it would be the latter.
He alluded to new content and new “transactional” consumer experiences but wasn’t able to discuss further. He said that he was working to transform the user experience on YP.com and its mobile properties into something that’s “very engaging.”
When MacFarlane was at InsiderPages he was up against Judy’s Book and Yelp, among others including Google. In some ways the market hasn’t really changed in the past decade and in other ways it’s radically different. Mobile has dramatically altered the landscape and consumer behavior and Facebook is a major competitor in waiting.
I’ve long argued that it’s important for directory publishers to maintain a consumer brand for multiple reasons. However doing that can be challenging and costly. Among the major US publishers only YP has continued to invest in a serious way in the consumer experience.
I’ll be very interested to see what MacFarlane has up his sleeve.
The company also announced today that it had hired Wendell Hicken as EVP of Technology. He’ll oversee development of YP’s ad, tech and data platforms.