Yahoo chair Semel's departure, Microsoft bid just hours apart. H-m-m

Yahoo chair Semel's departure, Microsoft bid just hours apart. H-m-m

Summary: Terry Semel left the CEO position at Yahoo! back in June, 2007.


Terry Semel terrysemel.jpg left the CEO position at Yahoo! back in June, 2007. But he was still non-executive Yahoo! board chairman until yesterday.

Therein lies the tale.

At the time of the departure, it was widely surmised that Semel's exit was hastened by a Yahoo! stock slide caused at least in part by a perception that he was too slow to pull the trigger on acquisition opportunities that could have kept up Yahoo!s cachet as an innovator as well as sustained the value of Yahoo! stock. Opportunities to acquire businesses such as YouTube and Facebook before they became too big a gulp.

But what not everyone realized was that Semel stayed with Yahoo! as non-executive chairman up until yesterday.

Now today the news comes of Microsoft's rather strong intent to buy Yahoo!

Mere supposition, mind you. But still, I am wondering whether:

Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang and others have been hearing rumors of the Microsoft bid/demand all week, and when it became definite this bid would be delivered, decided that the guy whose indecisiveness got Yahoo!'s market value so low that a hostile bid would be tenable had to be fully excised from the company.

Kind of a mindset that "if Terry had been more decisive, we wouldn't be in this mess."

Topics: Legal, Banking, Enterprise Software, Microsoft, Social Enterprise

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  • Another theory: Semel left in protest

    This is pure speculation but how about this theory: Semel was opposed to a deal, lost the argument, and left in protest.

    It's doubtful he would have been covered by the golden parachute Ballmer hints at anyway since that only applied to "key leaders". Meaning some but not all leaders. So leaving early didn't cost him anything and probably saved him a lot of grief.
    Ed Burnette
  • Theory 2: Microsoft saw Semel's departure as an opportunity

    Here's another purely speculative theory about the timing: Ballmer heard Semel was leaving. Ballmer knew Semel was opposed to any acquisition, so as soon as Semel was out of the way, he immediately tried again.

    Some wilder theories come to mind but I'll leave that as an exercise for your other readers.
    Ed Burnette
  • Theory 3: Great timing, wrong price

    Semel's departure is so closely timed that he must have got
    word of it when Ballmer called Yang last night. Ballmer said he
    called Yang in his conference call today.

    Semel would not want to be around as chairman after he
    realised early in the week that Yahoos 1,000 job cuts were
    never going to be enough to satisfy the markets. With a MSFT
    bid, he knew he'd be in an untenable position, so best to go
    before the crunch came. He left knowing what was coming up
    today, and I don't think he had to be asked to go.

    Microsoft are offering to pay what Yahoo was worth a year ago,
    and Yahoo's stockholders are bound to take the money,
    because they know they are not worth the money they were a
    year ago. But Microsoft are prepared to pay because they are
    desperate and they know that Google might just decide to spoil
    their fun if they only bid $25-27 a share.

    Google might still spoil their fun - and they can afford to pay
    more, and have more synergy to gain with the properties Yahoo
    owns. Yahoo and Microsoft will be one ugly, scary monster.
    But Google is just scary - for now.
    David Petherick