Yahoo prediction: Jerry’s a goner
Carl Icahn and Yahoo’s (YHOO) board of directors each blinked, but it increasingly looks like Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang will end up on the losing end of this debacle.
Just to read the details, this is an amicable end to a nasty spat. Yahoo agrees to put Icahn and two of his nominees on its board. Icahn, in turn, agrees to drop his proxy fight to replace Yang as CEO. Interestingly — and wisely — Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard (ATVID), has decided to get the heck out of Dodge and leaves the Yahoo board.
Now Yahoo can hold its long-delayed shareholder meeting on Aug. 1 in relative peace and quiet.
But here’s a prediction: Jerry Yang won’t be CEO come year-end. He’s been able to stare down Microsoft (MSFT) and Icahn, but he hasn’t done much of anything for shareholders. (The shares were down 3%, to about $22 Monday. They were at $28 when Yang was named CEO in June, 2007, and around $19 when Microsoft launched it hostile takeover bid at $31.) Not only has the stock fallen, but Yahoo has been in disarray. It has continued to lose search marketshare to Google, its products have floundered, and its executives have been leaving in droves. All the excitement has obscured the fact that Yahoo’s performance is probably suffering in light of the overall economic slowdown, making it even more critical that Yahoo get a seasoned operating executive at the top of the org chart. Microsoft, Google (GOOG) and ValueClick (VCLK) reported last week a slowdown in online advertising growth.
Yahoo reports Tuesday after the market close. Soon, when it has some time to think, the board will decide that it’s got to correct the mistake it made by naming Yang CEO in the first place last year. Yahoo needs its Mark Hurd (HPQ), and this person can’t be that difficult to find. Of course, it’s a huge challenge. But after all it’s been through Yahoo remains one of the most valueable media properties in the world. It’s the dream job for the CEO candidate with enough gumption and ambition to take it on.