It's time for Jerry Yang to step aside

Don Reisinger thinks it's time for Jerry Yang to step aside and let Carl Icahn do what he wants. But will Jerry go down without a fight?

It's time for Jerry Yang to step aside. I know Jerry probably doesn't want to hear that and it's difficult for the Yahoo faithful to come to that realization, but there isn't any other option available to him.

In the past 24 hours alone, we've discovered that Microsoft and Carl Icahn have been chatting it up on numerous occasions; both Ballmer and Icahn want Yang gone; and Icahn is a firm believer that the only way to fix Yahoo is to sell it Microsoft. All the while, we haven't heard anything from Jerry Yang and company and the employees are left wondering what's happening to their employer.

Of course, the answer is quite simple: it's being torn apart by a greedy and jealous CEO who looks like he has no regard for his shareholders, while another force, Carl Icahn, is showing his own greed and trying desperately to get out from under this albatross with some sort of financial gain.

But in the end, the writing on the wall is suddenly so clear: Yahoo needs to go to Microsoft as soon as possible and Jerry Yang and the rest of his cronies on the board need to be ousted just as quickly. And whether he wants to believe it or not, it better happen before the August 1 board meeting.

For his part, Yang is now trying something new. Instead of working alongside Icahn in trying to get the Microsoft deal done, reports now suggest that Yahoo is in talks with Time Warner to enter into a merger agreement worth $10 billion.

Of course, this move doesn't matter. Not only is $10 billion far too little for Icahn and the rest of the shareholders to suddenly take Yang's side, but Microsoft has put the pressure on the board and made it abundantly clear that it would be willing to work with Yahoo if Yang and his cronies step aside.

"We have concluded that we cannot reach an agreement with [the current Yahoo management]," Microsoft wrote in a letter. "We confirm, however, that after the shareholder election, Microsoft would be interested in discussing with a new board a major transaction with Yahoo, such as either a transaction to purchase the "Search" function, with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company."

To add more fuel to the fire, Icahn wrote an equally damning letter saying, "Steve [Ballmer] made it clear to me that if a new board were elected, he would be interested in discussing a major transaction with Yahoo!, such as either a transaction to purchase the "Search" function with large financial guarantees or, in the alternative, purchasing the whole company. He stated that Microsoft would be willing to enter into discussion immediately if the new board that has been nominated were elected."

All the while, the leader of the company, Jerry Yang, is left out. Not only has Microsoft decided to discuss the value of an agreement with someone who has no power at the company, but it has found no reason to discuss anything else with Yang.

And now, Jerry Yang is nothing more than a lame duck.

As public opinion moves to Icahn's side, Jerry Yang and the rest of the board are floating away with no prospect of survival. With Microsoft officially done talking with this board and Icahn making it abundantly clear that Jerry Yang has botched the entire deal, Yang can only do one thing: preside over the slow retreat until August 1 when Icahn and the rest of his buddies take over and sell the remains to Microsoft.

Regardless, I just don't see what else Jerry Yang can do except step aside and let the popular majority take over. Yang has no way to turn the company around in the next three weeks, can't form a deal with Microsoft, and although he could try to strike a deal with other companies like Time Warner, no one is going to like that deal, so it'll probably die before it becomes a reality.

The forces against Jerry Yang are simply too great right now and his radio silence today tells you everything you need to know: he's at wit's end. And when your own CEO can't muster a response that puts people back in his corner, there's really only one solution: get rid of him.

It's time to move aside, Jerry, and let someone else run your beloved company into the ground.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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