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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Icahn Says Jerry Yang Must Be Pushed Out

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn plans to seek the ouster of Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, should his dissident slate of directors gain control of Yahoo's board, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Icahn previously has centered his comments on removing Yahoo's board of directors, of which Yang is one of nine members who are up for re-election to a one-year term, when the next annual shareholders meeting is held.

Yahoo announced later in the day that it planned to hold its annual shareholders meeting on August 1 in San Jose, Calif. The meeting was originally scheduled for July 3, but the company announced a delay when one of its board members resigned in May.

Icahn apparently is irate over newly released details from a shareholders lawsuit unsealed Monday, according to the Journal. In the amended lawsuit by two Detroit retirement funds, Yang is portrayed as the architect of a controversial employee severance program, which would be triggered if Yahoo undergoes a change in control.

The change in control applies to not only a buyout, like the one Microsoft had on the table before it withdrew its $33 a share bid for Yahoo on May 3, but also a change in control of a majority of Yahoo's board, as noted in a CNET News.com blog.

"It's no longer a mystery to me why Microsoft's offer isn't around," Icahn said in his Journal interview. "How can Yahoo keep saying they're willing to negotiate and sell the company on the one hand, while at the same time they're completely sabotaging the process without telling anyone."

Icahn noted he believes the unsealed shareholders lawsuit will aid his efforts to win a proxy fight to unseat Yahoo's board, especially given his belief that investors will fear Microsoft will not come back with a buyout bid until Yang and the current board are gone.

The Journal also reported Yahoo's board is expected to meet Tuesday.

Comments left about this story include:
Who does Carl Icahn have tapped to replace Jerry Yang? Hopefully someone with a proven history of web and internet advertising success. Susan Decker might have to be moved out. The Yahoo sales efforts and advertising programs are overpriced and weak at best. Yahoo is not delivering advertisers enough return on investment. When will Yahoo shift focus and actually help advertisers drive conversions and ROI? If Yahoo would focus on advertiser ROI and moving the sale needle for their clients, they could turn the tide and truly compete with Google. I also was expecting Jerry Yang to focus more on quality user experiences. Yahoo is no longer delivering high-quality search results and content for users. C'mon Jerry, restructure the senior management team, trim the top level, take charge, clear the company of unskilled executives that lack "internet marketing" experience and take Yahoo back to its core. Improve Yahoo from the inside out and everything will fall into place.