Yahoo employees are bracing for a corporate restructuring and a serious round of layoffs, if one believes a report issued March 5 from the Dow Jones IT news site AllThingsD.
Of course, even casual industry observers don’t need that report to know that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has been struggling for more than a decade and is due for streamlining. The once-thriving Web services provider saw its co-founder/former CEO/spiritual leader, Jerry Yang, resign last month, along with its board chairman, Roy Bostock, and three other board members.
New CEO Scott Thompson, who jumped from PayPal to become CEO on Jan. 4, is the one who ostensibly will have to do the dirty work of cost- and job-cutting.
A source close to Yahoo told eWEEK that the company already has started the process of laying off employees. The company reported 13,100 full-time employees in 2011, and a high percentage of them may find themselves unemployed by month’s end.
AllThingsD said the layoffs will hit Yahoo’s large products organization and its marketing/public relations and research operations first. Marginal businesses and weaker regional groups could also be affected, the report said.
Turmoil in Leadership
Since 2007, Yahoo has had four CEOs: former Warner Bros. Chairman and co-CEO Terry Semel (2004-2007), Yang (2007-2009), Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz (2009-2011) and former PayPal President Scott Thompson, hired on Jan. 4, 2012. Semel resigned in 2007, with Yang replacing him. Bartz was fired by Bostock in September 2011.
Turnover in that job alone tells the story of company leadership in turmoil.
The die has been cast since 2008, when Yang, Bostock and a majority of the Yahoo board turned away a $44.6 billion buyout bid from Microsoft, a move that has lived in infamy with many investorsnow mostly former investorsever since.
For about seven years, Yahoo ranked as the world’s No. 1 Internet search engine. However, Google bypassed it in general usage in about 2002. Facebook, Twitter and other social media services also have taken page views from Yahoo, which is still the No. 2 search provider and whose Yahoo Mail is the world’s leading Webmail application.
Yang was a focal point of controversy in 2008 after he persuaded the board to turn down an offer from Microsoft to acquire the company for $44.6 billion, or about $31 a share. Yang feared that a Microsoft takeover would irrevocably damage Yahoo’s business model and image.
Buyout a Possibility
It is possiblemore likely, probablethat Yahoo will tighten its belts and trim headcount in order to make it more attractive to a potential buyer. It’s still possible that Microsoft, which licenses Yahoo’s IT for its Bing search engine, could be interested. But that $44.6 billion offer from 2008 is now officially a pipe dream, since the company’s market cap is estimated at $17.75 billion.
Yahoo’s common stock in July 2008 was selling for about $23 per share and had been as high as $33.63 in October 2007. The stock closed at $14.62 on March 5.