Yahoo's Yang Steps Down, Leaving Microsoft, Google to Gobble Share

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-11-17 Print this article Print

It's hard to stand by a waffling, ineffective leader.

Jerry Yang has stepped down from his position as Yahoo's CEO and the company's board is looking for a replacement, the company said late Nov. 17.

Yang will return to his former role as Chief Yahoo once Yahoo finds a successor to help the company turn around its fortunes in what will be an unenviable task to some, but a welcome challenge to others. AllThingsDigital's Kara Swisher has more, including Yang's letter to employees, here.

This news, which should boost Yahoo's languid stock Tuesday morning, should not be a surprise for anyone who attended or read up on Yang's appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit 12 days ago. In an interview with John Battelle, Yang said:

To this day I would say the best thing for Microsoft to do is to buy Yahoo. I don't think that is a bad idea at all.

What was so strange about that statement was that it came after reporters and bloggers spent months quoting anonymous sources that Yang fought tooth and nail to help Yahoo remain independent in the face of a hostile acquisition bid from Microsoft in February 2008.

That is, until Yang supposedly thought perhaps the only way to escape Microsoft's clutches was to get in bed with Google via a search ad deal.

Look how that turned out. Google, which has all it can handle fending off monopoly concerns, bailed without so much as a look back, the specter of the Department of Justice drifting in its wake.

Yang took over the CEO role in June 2007. Since that time, he's cut staff, reorganized several times, and rebuffed Microsoft to the detriment of shareholders watching Yahoo's stock price plummet and failed to get a search ad deal done with Google. The only thing that I've liked that Yahoo has done under his guidance is to begin to "rewire" Yahoo to be an open, socially driven platform, from search to e-mail, instant messaging and other applications.

Now Yang will have to try to continue to help steer Yahoo along the Yahoo Open Strategy until he is replaced by a surer, more capable leader. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft will likely continue to gobble search and advertising share in key areas such as display and mobile advertising.

Yang's brief stint as CEO will be characterized as downright disappointing, due to Yahoo's failure to strike a deal with Microsoft and overall lack of financial and market progress in search and other areas.

In the meantime, who do you see as a good fit to fix up the mess that Yang leaves behind, and will Microsoft circle back around one more time? |

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