Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang leaves company

18 Jan 2012

A boardroom upheaval, spurred on by negotiations over the sale of Yahoo!’s stakes in Asian portals, is understood to be a contributing reason as to why Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang has departed the company.

In recent years, Yahoo! has been struggling to reinvent itself. While it has an audience of 700m users it allowed itself to drift from a leadership position in the industry and be overtaken by trends such as search and social, and ceding the field to younger players like Google and Facebook in the online advertising stakes.

Yang co-founded Yahoo! in 1994 with fellow Stanford graduate David Filo.

Yang holds a 3.6pc stake in Yahoo! valued at US$720m.

In recent weeks, former PayPal executive Scott Thompson took over the helm of Yahoo! as its new CEO, four months after the board fired previous CEO Carol Bartz.

While Yang is viewed as an internet ‘visionary’, he is also associated with botching up an attempted acquisition of the internet portal by Microsoft three years ago.

“My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life,” Yang stated last night.

“However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! 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.”

Yahoo!’s challenge

Yahoo!’s challenge is to finally decide on an identity and a strategy that will give the company relevance in the fast-changing internet business landscape. In particular, it needs to extricate itself carefully from troubled relationships, such as its stakes in Alibaba in China.

In addition, Microsoft has signalled in recent months that it may still be interested in acquiring Yahoo!.

Yahoo! described Yang as a visionary and pioneer. Chairman Roy Bostock said: “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 700m users. And while I and the entire board respect his decision, we will miss his remarkable perspective, vision and wise counsel. On behalf of the board, we thank Jerry and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.”

Photo below: Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang


John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years