Insightful analysis and commentary for the US and global equity investor
Contributors: Douglas McIntyre Jon C. Ogg

Previous Posts

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yahoo!: Terry Semel's Retirement Party

Back when business casual dressing was the rage, Yahoo!'s board gave a necktie party for CEO Tim Koogle. It was March 8, 2001. Yahoo!'s stock had dropped from a bubble-fueled $108 in late 1999 to just above $8. Terry Semel, former Warner Bros. big came in to replace Koogle.

Like most internet stocks that hit ridiculous highs in 1999, Yahoo!'s stock never returned to that level. But, it did get back to $43 in early 2006, and, after a series of missteps, it has fallen to just above $24.

Yahoo! management has to take the lion's share of the blame here. Google's stock has outperformed the older company by a huge margin. Yahoo!'s new advertising and search technologies are behind their schedules. Yahoo! has warned on third quarter earnings. The company's strategy to keep Yahoo! as an "internet portal" keeps it in a pack of old "new media" companies like AOL and MSN. Distinquishing one from the other is difficult.

Yahoo! did not acquire MySpace or YouTube. Either move could have picked up a massive new audience and put the company into the social networking/sharing business. And, Yahoo! has not introduced any major new product to steady its flagging fortune.

Perhaps it is time for Mr. Semel to go now. He had a good run from 2001 to 2005. He made hundreds of millions of dollars on Yahoo! stock. But, he did not keep the company on the cutting edge. He took no big chance, and it shows. Even Ebay took a chance on Skype, a company that would have fit better with Yahoo!'s instant message business.

The company's CFO and the COO are not likely candidates to take Mr. Semel's place. They have been involved in the decisions that have brought Yahoo! to its current place.Maybe one of Google's two management stars Omid Kordestani or Jonathan Rosenberg could take Semel's place.

But, Mr Semel has now stayed too long at the fair.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

Powered by Blogger