After many turbulant months, weakening financials, dissent among board members and a bungled merger negotiation with Microsoft, Yahoo founder and CEO Jerry Yang will be stepping down. Yang will retain his position until a replacement is found, but given all that has happened on his watch, expect the board to move quickly. The speculation game has begun. Names being floated around are Sue Decker and David Rosenswieg, both seen as old-guard Yahoo’s, as well as Frank Biondi and John Chappel, new board members brought in by disgruntled shareholder Carl Icahn. The company may best be served if the board sidebars all four candidates for the moment and conducts a serious search outside the company. However, no one knows if there were any promises made by Icahn to Biond and Chappel, especially regarding their help in rolling back Yahoo’s poison pill intended to quash any MS merger.
Whomever takes the helm at Yahoo must immediately revisit the Microsoft deal and find out once and for all if Ballmer was serious about walking away — or if all the wranglings were hardball negotiations fueled by a personal vendetta against Yang. As we’ve said for months, we suspect it is the latter and that Redmond will eventually cut a deal with Yahoo.
Yang will remain on the board and consult for the company but it’s time for Jerry to let go. His job is done and regardless of how difficult it may be to leave, Jerry should take his bows for a job well done and move on to his next great adventure.
Meanwhile, this isn’t the best news the folks at AOL/Time Warner have heard lately.