January 18th, 2012
12:40 PM GMT
Hong Kong (CNN) – The Yahoo co-founder and one-time CEO leaves behind disgruntled investors, upset at his handling over potentially lucrative merger deals.
The Taiwan-born Silicon Valley billionaire also leaves behind a company whose share price has tumbled 54% since its five-year high back in 2007.
And as stakeholders see Yang’s silhouette fade to black, you can bet many of them are now shouting their own “Yahoo!”
They see his exit as opening the door to a happier, more profitable future for the battered tech firm. Part of that could involve Yahoo selling off stakes in its interests in Asia, including its 40% chunk of Chinese e-commerce behemoth Alibaba.com and 35% piece of Yahoo! Japan. (Its current CEO Scott Thompson is reportedly in favor.)
But even if Yang’s departure starts Yahoo on the road to recovery, it may only be the first step of many ahead.
Critics say one of Yahoo’s biggest blunders was Yang’s rejection of a hostile takeover bid from Microsoft in the spring of 2008. That deal would have been worth more than $47 billion - by many accounts a sweet offer and an amount that Yahoo would no longer be able to command as its share price sank into the mire of the year’s later financial crisis.
Yang, then CEO, was replaced by Carol Bartz.
But that would come back to haunt the company too. Just about two years in the position and she was sacked as well after failing to turn around the flailing firm. Investors seemed to support that move. In the two days after her exit, Yahoo’s share price jumped 12%.
And a few weeks later, Yahoo’s share price jumped another 17% in two days - not so much from a success of its own but because of talk of a takeover from none other than Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba. He had admitted he would buy Yahoo - all of it - if he were able.
News of Yang’s surprise sign-off hit after the end of Tuesday’s trading day. But in after-hours action, the company’s share price jumped more than 3% as investors bought into the stock.
That’s because Yang came to be perceived more as an impediment to necessary change than an agent for it.
And with the company’s share price having meandered near five-year lows for about half that time, many think that change was due.
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