Photo credit: jdlasica

New CEO Marissa Mayer joins a Yahoo that's literally split in half. The company's primary base of operations, including Mayer's new office on the third floor of building D, is smack in the middle of Silicon Valley, in Sunnyvale, CA. Meanwhile, the bulk of the company's media operations are based in Santa Monica, in southern California. The Santa Monica office is led by Ross Levinsohn. Levinsohn is Yahoo's executive VP, head of global media, and interim CEO. Levinsohn retreated to Santa Monica on Monday, skipping the quarterly earnings call and flying home from Sunnyvale just after learning that he wouldn't get the permanent promotion. In her first memo to Yahoo's staff, Mayer wrote that "we all owe thanks to Ross Levinsohn, for his leadership and direction as interim CEO over the last couple of months. Ross has done a terrific job for the company" — thank you, past-tense, period. Sources tell Kara Swisher that Mayer would like for Levinsohn to stay, but also that Levinsohn is more than likely planning his exit.

This makes Yahoo Media's future almost as uncertain as Schrödinger's poor cat. No one knows how long Levinsohn will stay, or how Mayer would remake Yahoo's media business should Levinsohn and his allies depart. One possibility, though, looks increasingly likely: the media division's power center will shift away from Santa Monica.
Sources inside Yahoo Media say it's likely Mayer and her team will move more of the division's leadership to Sunnyvale, to exercise more direct control and to better coordinate company-wide initiatives. Also, significantly, much of the top direction of the entire media team will come from New York, in a significant expansion of the office's current responsibilities. New York, not Santa Monica, would become the primary hub for Yahoo Media.

At its limit, this means either folding or radically shrinking Yahoo's presence in Santa Monica to focus on two centers in Silicon Valley and New York. It also means that the long-standing question of whether Yahoo is a media or a technology company is about to get completely reconfigured.