Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang quits company after 18 years

19/01/2012

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang has quit the company he founded almost two decades ago, raising hopes that the former internet darling may be sold or split up. Yang formed Yahoo with David Filo in Silicon Valley in 1995 and served as chief executive between June 2007 and early 2009. Although a popular figure among Yahoo! employees, Yang had alienated shareholders by turning down a $47.5bn takeover offer from Microsoft in 2008. Yang is severing all formal ties with the company by resigning all positions including his seat on the board of directors.

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“My time at Yahoo, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life,” Yang said in a statement.

His exit comes less than a month after the company named former PayPal executive Scott Thompson as its chief executive.

Yahoo had been without a leader since ousting Carol Bartz last summer.

The company did not say where Yang was headed or why he had suddenly resigned. CEO Thompson offered few clues in a memo to employees obtained by Reuters following the announcement.

"I am grateful for the support and warm welcome Jerry provided me in my early days here. His insights and perspective were invaluable, helping me to dig deeper, more quickly than I could have on my own, into some of the key elements of the company and how it operates.

Yang and co-founder David Filo, both of whom carried the official title "Chief Yahoo," own sizable stakes in the company. Yang owns 3.69 percent of Yahoo's outstanding shares, while Filo owns 6 percent as of April and May 2011.

The remaining nine members of Yahoo's board, which includes Hewlett-Packard executive Vyomesh Joshi and private investor Gary Wilson, are all up for reelection this year.

Yang's departure could be part of a broader board shakeup, said Ryan Jacob, chairman and chief investment officer of Jacob Funds, which owns Yahoo shares.

Last of the independents?

Yang’s decision to leave removes someone who was keen to keep the company independent. Microsoft has voiced an interest in helping a consortium of private equity companies buy a stake in Yahoo.

Shares in Yahoo jumped more than 3pc to $16.48 in after-hours trading in New York after Yang said that he would be leaving the company to pursue other interests.

Yahoo has faced intense pressure from shareholders to find a strategy that revives the fortunes of a company that once dominated the internet.

Although the company’s homepage remains one of the most visited pages on the internet, Yahoo has failed to develop a compelling social network or keep pace with the increasing number of people who access the internet on mobile devices.

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