Karin Gilford

Women's Impact Report: Executive Suite

A digital exec in transition, Karin Gilford has just left Yahoo after eight years — an eternity in the Internet biz — to take a new job managing Comcast’s online video portal. The exec will be charged with developing Fancast, which officially launched this year, into a destination for TV and movie fans looking for free, albeit ad-supported, episodes and pics online.

The move is the latest shift for the Midwest native, who got her start at Ernst & Young, then segued to a Paramount development post after business school before catching the digital bug at Launch, a digital music service bought by Yahoo. She worked her way up the ranks to exec VP and general manager of entertainment before taking the Comcast gig.

For Gilford, the benefits of working in digital media are many: It’s dynamic, fast-growing and family-friendly.

“I really love digital entertainment,” Gilford says, “and the thing I love about it is creating experiences that users will come back to again and again.”

Gilford is especially proud of her role launching Yahoo’s OMG, a showbiz gossip site she hatched last year, and the portal’s growing array of original video programming, including “Tech Ticker”; the rather polished music series “Nissan Live Sets on Yahoo,” featuring the likes of Herbie Hancock and the Counting Crows; and “Primetime in No Time,” a daily recap of the previous evening’s shows. Short, digestible programming like this is easy — and cheap — to produce, and at its best draws viewers back to the portal on their Internet coffee breaks.

“I think we’ve hit the sweet spot with it,” Gilford remarked before exiting Yahoo. “We’re producing a lot of video here at Yahoo.”

Being an exec also means tough choices: At Yahoo, that meant jettisoning its subscription music service earlier this year to focus on other programming; Netco partnered with Rhapsody to exit a biz that, “frankly, Yahoo wasn’t that good at.”

Despite all the turmoil in the digital world — especially at Yahoo this year — Gilford remains enthused about it.

“It’s really exciting to see what’s happening in the marketplace,” she says. “I get calls literally all day long. There are a lot of opportunities out there.”

Role model: “I always look at a lot of female executives that have family, like Dawn Ostroff,” says Gilford, who has a 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

If not Hillary, then who? “Obama!”

Fave leisure activity: “Snowboarding.”

Career mantra: “I keep really focused, and I don’t play any political games.”

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