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Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Yahoo! crystal gaze

I can’t say this about fortunes of the company, but there is hardly a dull day at Yahoo!

Jerry Yang, founder and outgoing CEO said this earlier in a memo to the troops - "All of you know that I have always, and will always bleed purple. I will always do what I think is right for this great company. While this step will be an adjustment for all of us, I know it's the right one."

He exits not only bleeding, but battered into a stunning shade of aubergine after months of public pummeling for passing on a Microsoft buyout and failing to firm up a viable alternative strategy as the stock tanked. The initial burst of enthusiasm that sent the company's market cap up by about $2 billion in early trading reflected a consensus that this was a step that had to be taken before anything else could happen, and a later partial retreat showed those hopes tempered by the reality of the challenges that still face Yang's successor.

So now what? Attention has quickly turned to speculation on a successor, and the perception that Yahoo's problems are systemic bodes ill for any in-house candidates, like President Sue Decker. "The next hire has to be a statement; it can't be from inside the company," said Rick Munarriz, an analyst with the Motley Fool. "You don't need a Yahoo again. The first thing they should do with the new CEO is cut him open and if he bleeds purple they kick him out."

But then there is the big Carl (Icahn) pushing for someone -- anyone -- who will get the deal done so he can cash in and check out.

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