Jerry Yang: The Web's most overanalyzed exec

Jerry Yang: The Web's most overanalyzed exec

Summary: Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang has a lot to worry about these days. Activist shareholder Carl Icahn wants to toss his board.


Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang has a lot to worry about these days. Activist shareholder Carl Icahn wants to toss his board. Microsoft is playing hard ball. Large investors are angry. Google is the Web darling. What's next? The body language police.

yangbody.pngYang and Yahoo president Sue Decker took the stage at the D6 conference (Techmeme) and it was pretty apparent that there wasn't going to be a whole lot of revealing moments. Of course Yang needs more time. Of course Yahoo has a lot of eyeballs. Of course Yahoo is undervalued. Of course Yahoo has shareholder interests in mind and would take a Microsoft buyout if the software giant would just pony up more cash.

We've heard all of that before. Dan Farber sums things up:

Yang mostly reiterated what has been said in the public letters going back and forth between Microsoft and Yahoo. On the current state of negotiations, Yang said, "As companies are positioned we have to understand more of what they are proposing to us. We are doing our best to understand Microsoft's interest."

And Yang added.

"We are willing to do a deal under the right terms. It wasn't clear to me they wanted to finish the deal. I can't go revisit and take or not take it. I understand our obligation to stockholders from conversations with a number of them. The focus for us is how do we recognize more value for the company soon and position Yahoo to be much more successful in the long term. If there is a way to do it, we'll talk about other alternatives, but we aren't going to do something short term."

Well that's no fun. Where's the angst? Where's the big moment where Yang walks across the stage and hugs Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer and signs a deal right on stage?

At this point, the messengers at D6 have two choices--play it straight or make a leap or two. Enter the body language police.

TechCrunch's Michael Arrington concludes that Yang is done. He's giving the company line, but his body language says the company is toast. Kaput. Over. Just close up shop and quit.

Silicon Alley Insider's Peter Kafka notes:

This is the definition of a defensive crouch: Explaining, over and over again, that you're not in a defensive crouch. We're not sure that given the circumstances, anyone in Jerry Yang's position could have come off well at the D conference today. Jerry certainly didn't: He struggled to articulate what he wanted to do with the company, but blamed the press for not paying attention to his plans. Asked why he should lead the company, he argued that while he didn't have that much experience, he "bleeds purple".

So Yang arguably had a tough outing, but somehow the more body blows this guy takes the more I want to root for him. Strange how that works.

In any case, I'm no body language expert. Yang didn't do any Karate Kid type defensive crouches. And he didn't look any shiftier than any other CEO. I did notice that he changed his sitting position a few times but that may have just been because he was sitting on his wallet.

But don't take my word for it. Luckily the fine folks at AllthingsD provided some video. You decide for yourself.

Part 1.

And Part 2.

Topics: Browser, Social Enterprise

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  • Quite Simply ...

    By rejecting Microsoft's offer, Yang screwed a lot of big investors out of a lot of money. That sort of thing is not to be forgiven. Frankly, I'm surprised we haven't found him floating face-down in a river somewhere.

    One thing that I suppose hasn't surprised me is the total tunnel vision of the technorati. They, almost to a person, were unable to recognize any facet of the merger proposal outside of technical and ABM/NBM kneejerkisms. Yahoo's response also seems to suffer from this flaw. Yang went on and on about their technical prowess and technology efforts in the pipeline, without any really serious consideration of fiduciary responsibilities to their investors.

    We've heard everything from "it's wunnerful" to "it suxor" from the technologists, but now, with the Yahoo board election coming up we're finally going to hear what the real world has to say about this. And, given the delays, I think Yang has finally started to cop a clue. This isn't over yet and it isn't going to be pretty.

    Steve G.
    • You hit it square on the head. (nt)

  • RE: Jerry Yang: The Web's most overanalyzed exec

    I would say that Jerry is the most over analyzed exec "of the past month or two" ONLY.

    I would suggest that Bill Gates is actually the most over analyzed of the past 20 years.