Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang announced on Tuesday that he is stepping down from his position on the Yahoo! Board of Directors, as well as his other positions on the boards of Yahoo Japan Corporation and Alibaba Group Holding Limited.
“My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo!” Yang said in a letter to Roy Bostock, the chairman of Yahoo’s board.
“As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo! leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future.”
Yang and David Filo founded the company in 1995. Yang has sat on the Yahoo board since March 1995 and served as CEO from June 2007 to January 2009, according to The Huff Post.
Announcing Yang’s resignation — which had been expected after the appointment of ex-PayPal president Scott Thompson to the chief executive’s chair on 4 January — Roy Bostock said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Jerry. His unique strategic insights have been invaluable. He has always remained focused on the best interests of Yahoo!’s stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and more than 700 million users. And while I and the entire Board respect his decision, we will miss his remarkable perspective, vision and wise counsel.”
Thompson praised Yang on Tuesday. “I am grateful for the warm welcome and support Jerry provided me during my early days here,” said Thompson in a statement. “Jerry leaves behind a legacy of innovation and customer focus for this iconic brand, having shaped our culture by fostering a spirit of innovation that began 17 years ago and continues to grow even stronger today. Jerry has great confidence in the future of Yahoo!, and I share his confidence in the enormous potential of Yahoo! in the days ahead.”
Yang, 43, whose company helped pioneer Web content and searching in the 1990s, exits Yahoo as it struggles to compete with Google Inc. (GOOG) and Facebook Inc. for online users and advertising dollars.
As it seeks ways to revive the company and placate impatient investors, Yahoo has considered selling its stakes in its Asian partners, including Alibaba, and has fielded proposals from private equity groups to sell a stake in itself, Bloomberg reports.
“By clearing out some artifacts of the past, it’s symbolic of the company’s desire to move forward,” said Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Austin, Texas. “With Jerry out of the way, it will perhaps make negotiations with the folks at Alibaba easier.”
According to Guardian, Yang’s reign as chief executive, between June 2007 and January 2009, included the disastrous decision – from Yahoo shareholders’ point of view – to reject a $44.6bn (£29.1bn) takeover offer from Microsoft in February 2008, which priced the company at a 50% premium on its share price at the time.
Yang still owns 46.6 million shares, or 3.8 percent of the company’s outstanding stock, according to a Nov. 25 filing.
Brett Harriss, an analyst at Gabelli & Co, said: “This is clearly a positive. Yang has been viewed as a roadblock to a deal or even a restructuring. Hopefully it leads to new blood on the board. It provides a more objective and unemotional approach to strategic alternatives.
“It’s also good for the new CEO. He has one less entrenched legacy board member to resist his vision.”
Rick Summer, an analyst at the brokers Morningstar, commented: “We have been relatively pessimistic on the likelihood of any sort of major divestiture creating a great deal of upside for investors. Jerry Yang was certainly an impediment toward anything happening.
“This is a company that’s been mired by a bunch of competing interests going in different directions. It was never clear what this board’s direction has been. We can certainly look back to several years ago, when they were not able to get a successful exit or sale to Microsoft. We obviously know that was not a particularly prudent move. Still, however, here we are.”