It had looked like Jerry Yang would at least get a few months to prove he could right the listing ship that is Yahoo. Perhaps it's days now.
The issue: Can you really turn a company around when the talent is heading for the exits at a rapid clip?
TechCrunch is reporting that executive VP Qi Lu and senior VPs Brad Garlinghouse and Vish Makhijani are all leaving Yahoo (Techmeme). Earlier this week, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake, founders of Flickr, left Yahoo. Jeremy Zawodny, Yahoo's technology evangelist, is leaving for Craigslist. Jeff Weiner, who ran Yahoo's network division, also split. In fact, tracking departed Yahoo execs has become a sport.
With this revolving door it's pretty clear that Yahoo needs a sacrificial lamb. That lamb is Yang, who has been a pinata. Sure, Yang is overanalyzed. And yes I feel bad for the guy. But the board has to act to make it look like it has some sort of clue before getting booted in August courtesy of Carl Icahn, who is now blogging on corporate democracy.
Let's be clear: Yang shouldn't get all of the blame. Yahoo's board is a joke and should get most of the blame for Yahoo's failure to compete with Google. It kept CEO Terry Semel around too long, misplayed the Microsoft takeover bid and hasn't been giving Yang good advice.
But the board isn't getting the boot today. So the next best thing is Yang. What happens next is unclear, but Yahoo president Sue Decker may not be the best successor. She rode shot gun with Yahoo and gets a lot of the blame too.
What Yahoo needs is an outsider--a leader that the folks that bleed purple will follow. Your guess is good as mine when it comes to predicting Yahoo's next CEO. But something has to be done. The sooner this transition is over the better it will be to compete more effectively.