Yahoo! founder may be turfed out for Microsoft deal

4 Jun 2008

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who has his sights set on a Yahoo-Microsoft collaboration, said the best way forward may be to get rid of Yahoo! co-founder and chief executive Jerry Yang, along with some of the Yahoo! board.

Icahn told the Wall Street Journal that he was already ‘very cynical’ about the boards and CEOs of many organisations but was surprised at Yang’s recent behaviour and accused him of never wanting or seriously considering the Microsoft acquisition in the first place, before going on to reject it last month.

Icahn was quoted in the New York Times as saying: “In my opinion, you might have to get rid of Jerry and part of the board to bring back Microsoft.”

This development is in light of the recent uncovering of confidential Yahoo! documents by a Delaware court. These papers point to a trail of evidence, dating back to early 2007, detailing the defences Yahoo! put up from the very beginning to deter a Microsoft acquisition.

Specifically, minutes from a meeting show plans by Yang in October 2007 to draft a standard press release to reject any offer whenever it arrived, pointing to a default dismissal of Microsoft’s offer without investor insight.

The documents were seized by the court following a lawsuit filed by Yahoo! shareholders after they became concerned that Yang’s employee retention plan was too costly in light of an acquisition.

Yahoo!’s official response to Icahn states that Yang has been “crystal clear” to shareholders about the company’s intentions and that the company considered any proposals in their best interests.

By Marie Boran

Pictured: Yahoo!’s corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA