Tribune Confirms Former Yahoo Exec Shashi Seth Will Lead Its Newly-Formed Digital Ventures Unit

Shashi Seth, whose résumé includes management and executive roles at Yahoo, Aol, and Google, is joining the Tribune Company as the president of a new unit called Tribune Digital Ventures.

Seth’s role was first reported yesterday at AllThingsD, and the company is now confirming the news. It says Tribune Digital Ventures will operate as an independent unit based in Silicon Valley.

Seth told me that his job will be to develop new products around Tribune content, making sure that it “gets used appropriately on the Internet and mobile side.” A big part of that is finding new ways to circulate traffic between Tribune’s different properties, whether they’re in print (it publishes newspapers including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times), broadcast or digital. The goal, he said, is to create “a network effect across these disparate mediums and build a bridge between them.”

It sounds like partnering with startups is going to be a part of that mission. As for whether that will involve making startup investments, Seth said, “It is within the realm of possibility, but I think first and foremost we have to come up with a strategy.”

Seth left Yahoo in January, where he was most recently the senior vice president of its Connections business unit, which included products like Yahoo Search and Mail. He has also been the senior vice president of global ad products at Aol (which owns TechCrunch), head of monetization at YouTube, and search product lead at Google. He has startup experience as well, founding and serving as CEO of a wireless startup called Conexo and chief revenue officer at Cooliris.

“I’m fascinated and disappointed at the same time with what the traditional media world is going through,” Seth said when asked why he joined the Tribune Company. “I know and feel it in my heart that the content itself is amazingly valuable. … I think newspapers and broadcasters have given up the ownership of that space to the new Internet world. What I’d love to do is find a way to actually reclaim it.”