Jerry Yang’s resignation paves way for sale of Yahoo’s Asian assets

Two weeks after Pay Pal’s Scott Thompson took the reigns at Yahoo, the ailing internet company’s co-founder Jerry Yang has announced his resignation. Analysts and investors who have viewed Yang as an obstacle to the corporation’s sale of its Asian assets are upbeat about his departure, writes Emily Tan.

Yang co-founded Yahoo in 1995 with David Filo and was the company’s cheif executive officer from June 2007 to January 2009 – during which time he rejected Microsoft’s US$44.6 billion takeover bid. His decision proved to be disastrous, from the point of view of Yahoo’s shareholders, as since then its market cap has dropped to under $20bn.

In the hours after Yang announced his decision, Yahoo’s share prices rose 3.7 per cent due in part to investors seeing Yang as a roadblock to a sale or any major division of the company’s assets, reported the Wall Street Journal.

In a formal statement, Yang said that he was leaving the company to “pursue other interests outside Yahoo” and was “enthusiastic” about Thompson’s appointment as CEO.  Yang owns about 3.6 per cent of Yahoo’s shares. He will be giving up his board seat at Yahoo and will also step down from the boards of the Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan.

According to the New York Times, analysts and company insiders say Yang’s departure has “cleared the way for the sale of assets abroad”.

In December, word broke that Yahoo’s board was considering selling the bulk of the company’s holdings in Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan’s affiliate back to their majority owners, in a transaction valued at a rumoured US$17 billion. Sources speaking to New York Times’ Dealbook implied that Yang was working against the deal.

“Everyone is going to assume this means a deal is more likely with the Asia counterparts,” Macquarie analyst Ben Schacter told business publication FirstPost. “The perception among shareholders was Jerry was more focused on trying to rebuild Yahoo, than on necessarily maximising near-term shareholder value.”

Brett Harriss, an analyst at Gabelli & Co, said: “This is clearly a positive. Yang has been viewed as a roadblock to a deal or even a restructuring. Hopefully it leads to new blood on the board. It provides a more objective and unemotional approach to strategic alternatives.

FROM 0930: The show looks like it is over for Jerry Yang. The co-founder of Yahoo! resigned last night from the firm’s board after repeated attempts to rejuvinate the internet firm foundered.

His exit follows the recent appointment of PayPal’s Scott Thompson as new CEO of Yahoo!.

AllThingsD is reporting that more board members are set to follow Yang out of the door.

Yang co-founded Yahoo back in 1994 way before the dotcom boom, before Google and before much of the web had come into being. It was another age.

Yahoo! was the Google of its day and outlasted many of its earlier competitors like Excite, AskJeeves, AltaVista and Lycos, but it failed to innovate or develop. The social age passed it by almost completely and Yang with it.

In a letter to the board, Yang wrote: “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. … I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as chief executive officer and his ability, along with the entire leadership team, to guide Yahoo into an exciting and successful future.”

Here’s the detail of the announcement from Yahoo!:

Yahoo! Announces Resignation of Jerry Yang

SUNNYVALE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company, today announced that Jerry Yang has resigned from its Board of Directors and all other positions with the company, effective today. In addition, Yang resigned from the Boards of Yahoo Japan Corporation and Alibaba Group Holding Limited, effective today.

In a letter to the Yahoo! Board Chairman Roy Bostock, Yang wrote:

“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.”

Yang co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1995 with David Filo and served as a member of the Board of Directors since March 1995 and as Chief Executive Officer from June 2007 to January 2009. The Company went public in 1996.

“Jerry Yang is a visionary and a pioneer, who has contributed enormously to Yahoo! during his many years of service,” said Roy Bostock, Chairman of the Yahoo! Board. “It has been a pleasure to work with Jerry. His unique strategic insights have been invaluable. He has always remained focused on the best interests of Yahoo!’s stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and more than 700 million users. And while I and the entire Board respect his decision, we will miss his remarkable perspective, vision and wise counsel. On behalf of the Board, we thank Jerry and wish him all the very best in his future endeavors.”

Bostock concluded, “We appreciate Jerry’s comments and share his enthusiasm for the company’s prospects. With Scott Thompson leading an outstanding team of Yahoos to deliver innovative products and an engaging customer experience, Yahoo!’s future is bright.”

“I am grateful for the warm welcome and support Jerry provided me during my early days here,” said Scott Thompson, Yahoo!’s Chief Executive Officer. “Jerry leaves behind a legacy of innovation and customer focus for this iconic brand, having shaped our culture by fostering a spirit of innovation that began 17 years ago and continues to grow even stronger today. Jerry has great confidence in the future of Yahoo!, and I share his confidence in the enormous potential of Yahoo! in the days ahead.”