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David Yovanno has become the chief executive of a leading widget company, Gigya, effective Tuesday. He was formerly chief operating officer of ValueClick.

Yovanno spent nine years at Internet advertising network giant ValueClick, where he ended his tenure as chief operating officer of U.S. Media. He oversaw the company’s display advertising, lead generation, and comparsion shopping business units. During the time he was there, ValueClick vetted more than 300 companies and bought 14. Before he joined ValueClick, Yovanno was a Navy lieutenant and chief information officer for a naval hospital.

In an interview, Yovanno said that he believed in Gigya’s business model and the market position they had carved out as a leading distributor of widgets on the Internet. He also said that after all the time at ValueClick, it was time to move on.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Gigya has a good-sized war chest. It raised $11 million in venture capital in October, bringing its total funding to date to $23.5 million. The company has 40 employees and, in just 18 months, has built its widget empire to more than 174 million unique visitors a month.

Gigya’s Wildfire platform lets more than 1,000 widget developers post and share their creations with a broader audience. And Gigya’s Socialize platform provides any site with the tools it needs to incorporate social networking features, such as a newsfeed that tracks friend activity. Brands such as Disney and Kimberly-Clarky are using Gigya to reach consumers with branded widgets. The company competes with Widgetbox, among others.

RockYou, which makes widget content, is one of Gigya’s customers. RockYou and Slide are indirect competitors in that they seek brand advertising, but Gigya is more like a distributor. Other big Gigya customes include Electronic Arts and CBS’ CNET Networks. The company says its success is due to the fact that its widget is lightweight, it doesn’t displace display ads or search ads, and it brings high-end advertisers such as Nike to web sites that use Gigya.

Co-founder and former Gigya CEO Eyal Magen will become chief strategy officer and will oversee Gigya’s Israeli operations.

Gigya’s investors include DAG Ventures, Benchmark Capital, First Round Capital and the Mayfield Fund.

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