Jerry Yang has abruptly resigned from Yahoo, the company he co-founded with fellow Stanford University student David Filo in 1995. Although Yahoo is still the world's second biggest website, it is struggling to stay relevant. However, Yang may be remembered chiefly for leading a bitter fight against Microsoft's attempted takeover in 2008, which would have been worth around $47.5 billion. Today, Yahoo is worth only $19 billion.
Yang's goodbye letter to board chairman Roy Bostock said:
"My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo! leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future."*
Scott Thompson joined Yahoo two weeks ago from PayPal, where he was in line to become chief executive after it is spun off from eBay. Yahoo's CEO for the previous two years, Carol Bartz, was fired over the phone in September 2011.
Yang also had a spell running the company as "interim CEO" (see My new job) in 2007-09, after Terry Semel, an ex-movie studio boss, suddenly quit. Semel had attempted to transform Yahoo from a directory (originally "David and Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web") and search engine into a media and content company. Although Silicon Valley considered Semel a failure, he increased Yahoo's revenues from $717 million in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2006, and turned a loss-making company into one that made almost $1 billion in profits. Yahoo's revenue over the latest 12 months has been $5.2 billion.
According to 24/7 Wall Street: "This is classified as a resignation. In reality this is a force-out. Needless to say, many investors are going to be glad to see Jerry Yang out of the way. Very, Very Glad!"
The blog believes that Yang's resignation from Yahoo and from the boards of Alibaba and Yahoo Japan mean that "the company will be better able to monetize those assets" (by selling them off). Yahoo's Asian assets could represent half of Yahoo's total value.
And as Forbes has pointed out, Yang got little sympathy when the news hit Twitter: Twitter to Yahoo's Jerry Yang: Don't Let the Door Hit You. For example, @pourmecoffee tweeted: "Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang resigned. For those unfamiliar, Yahoo is a Sunnyvale, CA company that hosts your Mom's email."
Jerry Yang is now 43 years old. His family emigrated to the USA from Taiwan when he was 10.
* Yang typically wrote emails all in lower case but either he made a special effort or someone added them later.
Yahoo vs Google: Yahoo's shares boomed in the stock market's Internet Bubble 1.0 but have since been outperformed by Google.