SAN FRANCISCO – In an end of an era at Yahoo, co-founder Jerry Yang has stepped down from the struggling Internet company’s board.
He has also relinquished all other positions with the company and his posts on the boards of Yahoo Japan Corp. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to a statement from the Sunnyvale, Calif., company.
The stock soared 4 percent on the news in after-hours trading.
“What the market is telling you is that Jerry stepping down removes an obstacle to unlocking some of Yahoo’s value,” said BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis.
Yang stepped down as Yahoo undergoes a strategic review, in which the board is deciding whether to jettison its holdings in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group or sell a minority stake to private equity investors. Its new Chief Executive Scott Thompson took over two weeks ago. Thompson also joined Yahoo’s board.
But Gillis cautioned against a rush of optimism.
“Jerry resigning doesn’t improve the fundamentals of the business. The fundamentals are still declining,” Gillis said. “There is a lot of work to be done at the company to turn it around.”
Yang, one of the Internet’s pioneers, has earned the ire of some investors who blamed him for thwarting Microsoft’s unsolicited takeover attempt.
In a letter to 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 on the board since March 1995. He was CEO from June 2007 to January 2009.
In a statement, Bostock said: “With Scott Thompson leading an outstanding team of Yahoos to deliver innovative products and an engaging customer experience, Yahoo’s future is bright.”
Forbes’ Eric Savitz wrote, “The larger question, of course, is what this means for the company. Yang has been a champion of Yahoo staying independent; he played a key role in the company’s rejection of a generous takeover bid from Microsoft in 2008. The company has recently been considering various strategic options; there have been reports that the company could be acquired by private equity investors, perhaps in concert with Microsoft, Alibaba and/or Softbank. Does Yang’s resignation signal that a deal is imminent? The market seems to think so.”
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