Yahoo Mobile Sales Head Paul Cushman Joins Ad Targeting Startup Drawbridge

Drawbridge, a cross-device ad targeting startup backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, announced today it has hired Yahoo’s former mobile sales head as its new vice president of sales and business development.

The hire in question is Paul Cushman, whose official title at Yahoo was senior director of mobile sales strategy. Despite the turmoil at the top of Yahoo, and the virtually unending criticism it seems to get in the press, Cushman insists that his departure shouldn’t be read as a sign of dissatisfaction with his old employer.

“I was having a great time at Yahoo,” he says. “It’s an insanely good company and it gets very bad press.”

Nonetheless, Cushman says that when Drawbridge approached him about building up the business side of the startup, he was intrigued. At Yahoo it was relatively easy to connect a person’s activity on desktop and mobile, because users were signing in to Yahoo Mail and Messenger on multiple devices. Because of that, Cushman knew how important that data is for advertisers, yet unlike Yahoo, most companies don’t have it.

So what Drawbridge has done (as founder Kamakshi Sivaramakrishna explained to me before the company launched) is build “probabilistic and statistical inference models” to suggest which PC and mobile users are likely to be the same person using two different devices. Then advertisers can use the data collected about someone on the desktop to target ads on mobile. Cushman sums up his reaction to the Drawbridge pitch: “I’m doing this at Yahoo, and if you can do this for everyone else, then you’ve got game.”

Now he says he’s trying to help the Drawbridge team, which is science- and engineering-driven, work with advertisers. Cushman claims to hate the word “productize,” but he admits that’s basically what he’s trying to do with Drawbridge’s technology.

“We need to take the unique capability of the company and orient the message towards the marketer of women’s underwear and say, ‘This is how we’re going to get women 18-34 buy more push-up bras,'” Cushman says.