Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang told employees, “The past year has obviously not been an easy one for us. But we’ve taken important steps to address the challenges we face, and we’re starting to realize some of the benefits.” That was June 2007 when he stepped in to replace then-CEO Terry Semel amid shareholder discontent, faltering fortunes, and a stock that struggled to reach the $30 mark.
Yesterday, Yang announced he would step down as CEO and sent an email to his staff that declared, “the fact remains that yahoo! is now a significantly different company that is stronger in many ways than it was just 18 months ago.” This despite the fact that his tenure was marked by a bitter battle to fend off Microsoft’s attempt to acquire the company for $31 per share, followed by a descent in fortunes as talent started to jump ship and investors began to quarrel with his leadership. Today, the stock fights to remain in double digits.
Despite the business troubles, Yahoo remains an important online media property that still garners considerable attention from web readers and advertisers. The next CEO will face the difficult task of trying to guide one of the Internet’s original pillars back to success. The pieces may well be there to do it, but the question lingers as to whether the damage that has been done to its business in recent years can be reversed.