Live Blog from Yahoo Shareholders' Meeting

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-08-01 Print this article Print

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Here's another update to our live blog coverage of the meeting, which might have been a media circus had billionaire investor Carl Icahn attended but which in fact took place in a very controlled environment:

12:46 p.m. Pacific time: We're Done Here. Generally, shareholders seemed frustrated that not even a partial accounting of the vote to retain Board Chairman Roy Bostock and CEO (and co-founder) Jerry Yang was announced at the shareholders' meeting, which attracted perhaps 250 shareholders and media and analyst types.

Instead, the board declared that the results -- many of which were gathered in an online poll -- will be announced later this afternoon in a press release.

The shareholders voted on three main issues: the election of new directors, including Icahn and two of his business cohorts; the ratification of PricewaterhouseCoopers as the company's new accounting firm; and three stockholder proposals -- including one that would set up a new human rights committee.

Yahoo famously has had issues with the Republic of China's government using its user information to find, prosecute,and torture political dissidents in that country.

As soon as we obtain the Yahoo news release on the board election, we'll post the news here.


11:05 a.m. Pacific time: Bostock Clarifies Microsoft Takeover Bid. Board Chairman Roy Bostock said he thought he needed to "clarify" the "misconceptions" that came out in the media during the six-month siege Microsoft waged on the company, first trying to buy the whole company, then, failing that, attempting to buy only the company's search engine.

"We only received one legitimate offer, in writing, for $31 [per share], on Jan. 31," Bostock said. That would have totaled a bit more than $40 billion. "We did not believe that to be in the best interests of our company and our shareholders. We encouraged Microsoft to continue the conversation, but they withdrew the offer. We heard later that there 'might be a few more dollars on the table,' but that was never substantiated.

"Finally, they came back with two separate proposals to rip out our search engine and buy it as a separate asset. One was from the company itself, and the second was from the Icahn group in correlation with the company. Those, too, were not offers we thought were in the best interest of our shareholders," Bostock said.

It had been reported far and wide -- including here at eWEEK -- that Microsoft's top offer had been a tad more than $40 billion. Later, an offer for $19 per share was reported for the whole company -- not just for the search engine.


10:33 a.m.: Pygmy Bashing Going On. A shareholder identified as John Harrington, who runs a human rights-aware investment fund, addressed the meeting and called for a new company committee to be formed on human rights.

He cited Yahoo's complicity with the Republic of China in helping identify users in mainland China who are dissidents of that nation's current government. A number of people were found and tortured, Harrington said, and a number of lawsuits hit the company that were settled out of court.

"Tom Lantos [the late Congressman from Silicon Valley] said in session that 'Yahoo's leadership are the equivalent of moral pygmies.' I would agree to that, although that would be denigrating to the pygmies," Harrington said. There was some scattered applause when he finished and sat down.

Wow. Does this kind of comment happen at most shareholder meetings that you know about?

Next up: board chairman Roy Bostock and CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang.


9:45 a.m. Pacific time: Hey, this is fun. Blogging live -- or almost live -- from the Imperial Ballroom on the second floor of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, Calif., just prior to the annual Yahoo shareholders' meeting.

Several hundred empty chairs are now waiting to be filled by shareholders positive and negative about the job CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang and his lieutenants are doing. The reports and conversation should be interesting, despite the fact that billion-dollar shareholder Carl Icahn has said he will not be here.

Check my last post about this news item.

The Station is now situated in the press pen (good wireless connectivity here, btw), alongside Kara Swisher (formerly of the Wall Street Journal and now of and Jim Goldman of CNBC. Old buddy Rob Hof, with whom The Station used to work at the now-defunct Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, is down the row. He's now Silicon Valley Bureau Chief of BusinessWeek -- and a great journalist.

Finally, there's another longtime friend, Eric Auchard, chief technology writer for Reuters, whose father, the Rev. Lloyd D. Auchard, was pastor of our church years ago. It's a small journalistic world.

When this clambake gets under way, we'll file periodic reports on it.

Say, if you want to listen in on the Webcast, here's the URL. Laters ... |

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