Everyone at Yahoo must be totally exhausted — perhaps most of all CEO Jerry Yang. It’s probably apprpriate to now use modifiers such as “beleaguered” or “embattled” to describe Yang. Mike Arrington has called for Yang to be replaced, as have others before him. After the termination of the Google paid search deal yesterday, more people will likely be doing the same.
Yahoo has many initiatives in various stages of execution and still has tremendous value to the consumer public (consumers don’t care who the CEO of Yahoo is). But if Yahoo were a parliamentary regime, there would be a vote of “no confidence” coming from much of the tech press and many bloggers.
(My personal view is that Yang seems to have lost the confidence of marketplace and that a new, more charismatic and forceful leader may be required to restore that confidence.)
Both the BBC and TechCrunch report on Yang’s chat with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 conference yesterday. The primary message that these reports convey is that Yang wants another bid from Microsoft. BBC quotes Yang saying, “To this day the best thing for Microsoft to do is buy Yahoo.” While that statement could be read as Yang’s unsolicited advice to Redmond, given Microsoft’s challenges in search, it could also be read as a plea of sorts.
In the latter context, Yang denied that he/Yahoo was responsible for killing the negotiations with Microsoft the last time around. According to the TechCrunch live notes from the talk:
Battelle says that a lot of people claim Yang is to blame for the deal falling apart. Yang counters, saying he is indifferent about keeping Yahoo independent and just wants what’s best for the company. He also reiterates that they went back to Microsoft after the offer was revoked to get them interested again.
This would appear to be a bit of “revisionist history,” looking back at Yahoo’s behavior and at all external appearances at the time. It certainly appeared that Yahoo was actively pursuing alternatives — and not just to maximize shareholder value. One of those alternatives came in the form of a paid-search deal with rival Google, which is now defunct. Another much-discussed alternative, an AOL acquisition or merger, was not discussed much during yesterday’s interview:
Battelle asks if Yahoo is talking to Microsoft about any kind of deal. Yang says no. Battelle asks if Yahoo is buying AOL, Yang says “I can’t talk about that.”
From my read of the various reports, it appears that Yang is sending a very mixed message, something like: “Yahoo is executing, Yahoo will continue to acquire other companies, Yahoo is strong . . . Microsoft, please buy us.”
Here’s more discussion from Techmeme.