Slim Pickens for Yahoo! board as T Boone’s stake is sold

30 Jul 2008

Billionaire investor T Boone Pickens did not mince his words as he called the Yahoo! board of management “pathetic”, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Pickens went on to sell his 10 million shares in the company at a loss – shares he had just bought in May of this year.

US oil investor Pickens had decided to invest in the internet company after fellow billionaire Carl Icahn, who owns 5pc of Yahoo’s stock, demanded the firm re-enter talks with Microsoft regarding an acquisition with a US$46.6bn price tag.

Since this offer and the ensuing rejection, there has been so much on-again, off-again action between the two firms that Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang had been accused of never having any intention of accepting the offer, with investors including Icahn growing increasingly impatient.

At one point, Icahn suggested that the entire Yahoo! board, Yang included, be completely replaced. This then led to Icahn being offered three places on the board. It will be interesting to observe what happens at the forthcoming AGM this Friday 1 August, especially given Yahoo!’s latest deal with rival Google.

“One minute, he [Icahn] thought Microsoft was the best solution for Yahoo! and so he said he’s going to unseat the board because Yahoo! won’t make the right choices,” said Martin Warner, new media consultant and co-founder of Technology of Tomorrow 2008.

“Then Yahoo! did an interesting deal with Google … and now Carl’s looking at that deal and saying there might be merit in it.”

Meanwhile, Yang is hanging on in there, despite having to compromise by allowing Icahn on the Yahoo! board. However, recent deals and products including developer tool BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) signal that the pioneering web company shows no signs of giving up the fight or slowing down on innovation.

“After all the nails that have been thrown at Jerry Yang, he’s not moving any time soon, the board are still standing firm. Microsoft’s still looking for ways to do deals with Yahoo! because Microsoft needs Yahoo! as much as Yahoo! needs Microsoft.

“Yahoo! is still a dominant player and still one of only few that could innovate enough to catch or make a dent into the Google business of search and ad sales,” Warner said.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: investor T Boone Pickens loses cool with Yahoo! and sells 10 million shares