Semel Out, Yang and Decker In at Yahoo
Apparently, we spoke too soon. Yahoo CEO Terry Semel, whom shareholders were less than happy with at last week’s shareholder meeting, has been replaced as CEO by Jerry Yang, Yahoo co-founder and one of the few members of the board who found favor with the most vocal group of disgruntled shareholders.
Susan “It’s not our goal to be No. 1 in Internet search” Decker used to be the CFO of Yahoo. She was named head of Yahoo’s new advertiser and publisher group in December. Today she has been promoted to Yahoo’s President.
Terry Semel will continue to serve as “non-executive chairman” and, presumably, keep his 25M stock options.
Read the full press release.
Andy’s Update: It’s interesting that Semel is not departing the company completely. His new role was likely crafted to ensure that there is sufficient time to transition his knowledge of the CEO role. This statement from Semel caught my eye…
Terry Semel said, “The Board and I have long talked about the importance of ensuring a smooth succession in Yahoo!’s senior leadership — and more recently, about the need for a leadership team committed to carrying Yahoo! through its multi-year transformation. As we discussed my future goals and plans, I was clear in telling the Board of my desire to take a step back sooner rather than later. I believe Jerry and Sue, with their superb talents and intense dedication to Yahoo! and its people, are the perfect combination to carry us forward. This is the time for new executive leadership, with different skills and strengths, to step in and drive the company to realize its full potential — it is the right thing to do, and the right time is now.”
I don’t have any inside information, but based on the pressure from shareholders and criticism from the media (and employees) there’s little doubt that Semel was ousted. I’m sure his role – and stock ownership – depended on him making an amicable statement. I just don’t see Semel telling the board that he wants to “step back sooner rather than later”, it just doesn’t sound like him. Likewise, how is naming Jerry Yang CEO a sign of a “time for new executive leadership, with different skills and strengths?’ How many times have we seen companies in trouble, hand the reigns back to the original founder?
No disrespect to Yang, but I’d be shocked if Yahoo doesn’t name another new CEO within the next 12 months.