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After Firing CEO, Yahoo Puts Itself Up For Sale 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the make-me-an-offer dept.
Reeses writes "Fare thee well, Yahoo: In addition to firing CEO Carol Bartz, Yahoo's board has now put the company up for sale. From the article: 'It was once the world's leading search engine, its founders held talks about a merger with Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation – and it even managed to fend off a $44bn takeover bid by Microsoft. But Yahoo has put itself up for sale, after firing its chief executive of 18 months Carol Bartz by phone.'"
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After Firing CEO, Yahoo Puts Itself Up For Sale

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  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:05AM (#37338406) Homepage

    if the CEO has no personal deep financial stake in the company's success, then they are worthless.

    Require a CEO to buy a large chunk of your company. IT's why the people that built the company are always far more successful at running it than some idiot that got his masters in Business Administration, and has connections.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:14AM (#37338496)

      The main reason the founders are more successful is that if they're not very good at it, the company never gets off the ground, and you just don't hear about it. Natural selection, let's call it. Unfortunately, you can't choose their successor the same way - you can't have many iterations of the company, each managed by different potential successor, and then choose the best one.

      • by rtaylor (70602) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @09:33AM (#37339292) Homepage

        There is a huge different in leadership requirements for a startup with zero to 3 employees versus an established firm with several thousand employees

        Very few founders make that transition well. Most founders have a difficult time of letting go of the micromanaging and trying to take part in everything in order to scale beyond themselves.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          the micromanaging seemed to work well for Jobs and Apple...

          • by sycorob (180615)
            Yes and no. I'm sure Jobs wasn't digging into the accounting paperwork, or corporate tax preparations, etc as much as he was the actual products. He's good at the product side, and I'm sure he knows it. I could be wrong, maybe he micro-manages every part of the business, but I never heard anything like that. Many founders, on the other hand, DO want to be involved in every part of the company, to the point where everything comes to a screeching halt since every little thing needs their sign-off. And then th
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:16AM (#37338512) Journal
      Unfortunately, that theory captures an incomplete picture of the founder effect:

      Requiring the CEO to buy a chunk of the company can provide them with a greater financial stake in the company's success, or it can just provide them with the incentive to axe the R&D department, pump out a few quarters that Wall Street loves, and give themselves a giant bonus in the form of "shareholder value" before moving on...

      If anything, having a CEO without major holdings(and without a "Congratulations, you fucked up!" bonus larger than a peon's lifetime earnings, if that isn't to scary to think about) might actually help ensure that they take the long view; because they don't have the same financial incentive to pump, loot, and leave.

      Founders(except of built-for-acquisition jobs) tend to have major holdings and personal emotional investments, and it takes both to make them do what they do...
      • yup. That is the major cause of America's short-term focus. However, better than their not being allowed to own stock, is to instead require the use of employee stock. If you work at the company, you get employee stock that can not be traded. With this approach, employees have a strong incentive to make the company successful.
      • by sootman (158191) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @10:13AM (#37339692) Homepage Journal

        > Requiring the CEO to buy a chunk of the company can provide them with a greater
        > financial stake in the company's success, or it can just provide them with the incentive
        > to axe the R&D department, pump out a few quarters that Wall Street loves, and give
        > themselves a giant bonus in the form of "shareholder value" before moving on...
        >
        > If anything, having a CEO without major holdings... might actually help ensure
        > that they take the long view...

        It's not either/or. There are ways to give someone a stake in the company and make it in their best interests to stick around and do good work. From last month's news about Apple's new CEO... [macrumors.com]

        In connection with Mr. Cook's appointment as Chief Executive Officer, the Board awarded Mr. Cook 1,000,000 restricted stock units. Fifty percent of the restricted stock units are scheduled to vest on each of August 24, 2016 and August 24, 2021, subject to Mr. Cook's continued employment with Apple through each such date.

        At the moment, those one million shares are worth about $400 million. It's entirely possible he'll become a billionaire as Apple's CEO.

      • by Terrasque (796014)

        and without a "Congratulations, you fucked up!" bonus larger than a peon's lifetime earnings

        I laughed a bit at that, and then I felt incredibly sad for some reason...

        • Based on the interweb's rough figures, the lump-sum cash payout of her 'we-love-you-so-much-we-terminated-you-by-phone' dismissal is equal to only 30 years of the average salary of a Yahoo software engineer, not quite a lifetime. Luckily, there is also a complex mess of stock options(conveniently not subject to those little-people payroll taxes!) that should save her from penury...
      • I like the idea of options that can't be exercised for 10 years or so. Even if they don't stay with the company that long it encourages building a sustainable company so the options will be worth something in that long.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I don't agree with your thesis.

      I think a CEO can be a professional. Certainly they can also be "some idiot" with an MBA, but he/she can also be a professional. Certainly having some founder's son in charge who happens to own a bunch of the company doesn't make you inherently better off as a stockholder than having a professional in charge. Many formerly successful companies have died at the hand of the founder's children.

      But most of all, I don't think that people who build companies are "always far more suc

    • by SlippyToad (240532) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:22AM (#37338570)

      Better yet, why not bar all forms of golden parachute compensation. If the CEO is fired, they're FUCKING FIRED, not given a huge handjob on the way out the door.

      Our corporate culture rewards failure rather than success, which is why our economy sucks so badly.

      • by rtaylor (70602)

        Part of the golden parachute is being a fall guy for things you did not cause.

        The board makes a decision which cannot turn out well and you follow it as directed despite logging opposition to that decision Bad things happen and someone (you) are to take the blame for the implementation of that decision.

        The payment for leaving is for not arguing or airing bad laundry.

        • by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:58AM (#37338910)

          seriously, the reason for not airing bad laundry is the interview for the next job - you do not want to turn up to an interview with the guy hiring you reading all about the nasty bitchy things you said about your previous company in the newspaper.

          The board makes decisions you don't like, then quit. The CEO is part of the board don't forget, its not some personal fiefdom where you and only you are the guy who has to do everything. Its not much different from being one of the peons whose boss and/or peers and/or upper management make a decision that you disagree with.

          Payments for leaving despite making an almighty f***up are just plain wrong.

          • The CEO is part of the board don't forget, its not some personal fiefdom where you and only you are the guy who has to do everything.

            Um, no. You appear to be confusing the CEO with the chairman of the board, who aren't (or, least generally, shouldn't be) the same person. The CEO *is* the head guy who does everything. He reports to the board, which holds him responsible for results. He does not usually sit on the board himself.

            • by gbjbaanb (229885)

              ah yeah, of course - I was confusing them as most CEOs tend to be the corporate psychos who are chairman too.

              I wonder if banning that practice would make corporate business more healthy?

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            seriously, the reason for not airing bad laundry is the interview for the next job - you do not want to turn up to an interview with the guy hiring you reading all about the nasty bitchy things you said about your previous company in the newspaper.

            Depends on the CEO. It's a very small elite group that's very clique-y. Hell, you see board members of one company can be CEOs of others (Eric Schmidt of Google was an Apple board member for a few years until he quit after the iPhone was released). Bad or good, mo

        • That's no fucking different from any other job. Boss makes a bad call, and you can be eliminated.

          Look at the mass numbers of peons who get laid off or downsized because the CEO or someone higher on the food chain makes a bad call. While the execs and managers are the last ones to be laid off.

        • by lavalyn (649886)

          So the CEO gets very good pay for things they didn't cause either? Don't give me that when a company fails it's always due to market circumstances (justifying the parachute) but when it's successful it's due to sound leadership (justifying the very high compensation).

        • People at all ranks of the company are often "a fall guy for things you did not cause", but they don't get a multi-million dollar severance package when they get fired.

          The gold in "golden parachute" is piss on the people who didn't make the right friends at a country club so they could get a cushy job and walk away rich no matter whether they got the job right or totally fucked it up.
      • by maxume (22995)

        Our economy doesn't suck because of the ways most businesses are run (the ones that stay in business generally manage to at least cover their expenses...).

        Our economy sucks because we cling to the notion that capital and other forms of wealth are scarce, whereas the reality is that productive capacity has reached the point where most needs can be easily met.

        (There are huge disparities in consumption across the world, but I would argue that this is 'merely' an organizational problem, a problem that further e

    • Except then they'd want to drive up the stock price to better their forced investment...

      I think it would be better to have a system where company ownership is dependent on employment there, that it cannot be sold and you rely only on dividends instead of artificial stock prices.
    • by Xest (935314) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:34AM (#37338708)

      So why is Steve Ballmer so shit?

      Honestly, I don't think it's that at all. I think it's that "business" folk in general are shit. They're great at fiddling spreadsheets, and ensuring they get awesome payouts for the most random reasons, and they're great at acquiring companies, ripping them to shreds and making headlines that give investors hardons.

      But to actually innovate and get a company to produce a worthwhile product? No they're fucking useless.

      The reason original founders do well isn't because they have a stake in the company, but because they are genuinely interested in what the company does- they came up with the idea they did because that idea appeals to them personally. This is why Ballmer sucks- because he's a businessman and doesn't give a flying fuck about software, it's why the company did so well under Gates.

      This is why Google dumped Schmidt and handed things back to Larry, because Schmidt is a businessman. He's great at lobbying politicians and so forth, but creating worthwhile and innovative new products? That's not really Schmidt's area of expertise.

      Really you need both to an extent, but there's a common pattern between all these companies who have lost their CEOs who were genuinely interested in the product of their company and replaced them purely with "business leaders" - they've all gone to shit.

      • I think it's that "business" folk in general are shit. They're great at fiddling spreadsheets, and ensuring they get awesome payouts for the most random reasons, and they're great at acquiring companies, ripping them to shreds and making headlines that give investors hardons.

        Sterotypes are easy. If you think "ensuring they get awesome payouts" is an easy thing to do, why aren't you doing it? Fact is that actually starting, running or turning around a business is hard. VERY hard. If you think that "fiddling spreadsheets" is all it takes, you pretty much are admitting you are clueless about how to buy, own, operate, start or sell a business.

        The reason original founders do well isn't because they have a stake in the company...

        Actually founders of business very rarely continue to operate the business once it grows to a significant size. The skill set to start a

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:39AM (#37338744) Journal
      Wrong approach. All employees and executives must NOT own any common stock. Instead, they should have employee stock. Upon getting a job with a company, employee gets a set amount of employee stock. No bonus are given. Instead, dividends are paid to employees or (employees AND common stock). With this approach, all have a common interest in seeing the company make the most money possible over a long term. With your approach, executives have a strong incentive to play the stock market game, instead of focusing on the company's long term gains.
    • by voss (52565)

      Like George W. Bush our first MBA president.

      Unfortunately we cannot get the chinese to send some Taiwanese whiz kid (afterall being our largest bondholder they do have a stake in our success) :)

      • Yes, very true.

        However, I noticed that you didn't mentions that Obama is proving to be quite an ineffective community organizer in chief.

        • I'd agree that Obama hasn't done nearly enough however he hasn't had the most supportive Congress either. But let's highlight Obama worked as a community organizer for 3 years after college and before he went to Havard Law and ignore that he taught law at University of Chicago, became a state senator then a US senator.
      • Maybe that's because Taiwan isn't under the control of the Chinese Government? Maybe we can get one from the Mainland, or if the Taiwanese wiz kid is worth it we could have China fund a war where we take over Taiwan and give it to them?

    • by backslashdot (95548) * on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:55AM (#37338884)

      Lou Gerstner .. IBM didn't make him buy a huge chunk of the company .. hell the dude couldnt even operate a computer .. he was the former CEO of Nabisco ... but he turned things around at IBM .. so no huge financial stake isn't the answer. In fact it may lead to greed-based short term decisions.

      Steve Jobs .. he owns more of Disney than he does of Apple .. and took a $1 salary. Obviously his main motive wasn't money ..rather making Apple the greatest company in the history of the world.

      There are plenty of other examples as well. Financial carrots aren't necessarily best. And also, the most important factor is the horse, not the carrot.

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      There is a way to FIX the problem of seagull managers, of overpaid CEOs, of underpaid investors, to fix the problem, not to apply band aids to it.

      Stop destruction of money by inflation and stop allowing the Federal reserve to monetize Treasury debt.

      This problem of overpaid CEOs, of non-existing dividend yields is found in USA more than in any other place, and it's because the business shares (corporate bonds) are not bought with a vision of investment, so most people are buying shares to flip them, not to h

    • by durdur (252098)

      Maybe that would help But I think Jerry Yang owned a lot of Yahoo, and when Microsoft offered a lot of money--too much money, really--for the company, he turned them down. I don't think a lot of shareholders are thanking him for that decision now.

  • For historical reasons, I have a Yahoo! Messenger account, plus Freecycle for some reason uses Yahoo! Groups. I can't think of any other interaction I or anyone that I know has had with them in half a decade. If they went dark tomorrow, it would be a minor inconvience at most.

    For them to still be valued in the billions just goes to show how much our personal information is worth. That purchase price? That's what buyers think that they can recoup from our pockets.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      They own Flickr, which is pretty widely used. It might be a good candidate to be spun back off, though.

    • by welcher (850511)
      Huh, and here was me thinking that it is the fourth most visited site on the web. But if you personally don't interact with those visitors, I guess they aren't important.
    • I am probably in the minority here but I still use a number of yahoo products.

      Messenger - I have had my account since probably 1997 and it is still my #1. I have MSN, Facebook, Skype & GTalk as well however if they all went dark tomorrow I would still be OK. Without Yahoo I'd lose 95% of the people I regularly converse with.

      Flickr - A really good place to post pictures and really has taken over for Yahoo groups. There isn't much spam and the groups are still regularly updated and have a good interfa
  • Who still uses Yahoo? I decided to take a quick trip to Alexa to get some sort of info about their demographics: "Relative to the general internet population, people over 65 years old are over represented at yahoo.com. Confidence: high"

    That pretty much explains it. Grandpa learned to use the internet in the late 90's with Yahoo, and any other dangblasted, newfangled search engine won't be built like they used to be.

    • by ThunderBird89 (1293256) <{zalanmeggyesi} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:27AM (#37338618)

      I'm 22, and my primary email address is, and has been ever since 1996, a Yahoo, and I find their email front end THE best on the net so far: keyboard shortcuts (even if they recently removed the ability to sort into folders with the number keys alone, they just require one more keypress), easily managed, can generate disposable 'decoy' addresses, and has proper folders instead of Gmail's "Labels" (which also have their merits, but I prefer folders).
      I really hope they won't axe the Mail service, even if they dump everything else, that is one thing worth saving.

    • by Karlt1 (231423)

      Who still uses Yahoo?

      Why do people, especially on Slashdot, post the same "Who uses x", when a simple search.....

      http://www.alexa.com/topsites [alexa.com]

      will show you that Yahoo is still the 4th most visited site on the Internet. Just because you don't use it, doesn't mean that no one does.

    • by bahstid (927038)
      Yahoo is still "The Internet" in Japan... weather, shopping auctions = yahoo. Search? About three weeks ago I was trying to help a student with their English google-fu... (I got sucked back in to teaching after the earthquake)... when I asked them to show me how they were trying to search, the first thing they typed into google: yahoo.jp

      Not sure exactly how much of a separate company they are over here though, they were actually one of the biggest early pushers of broadband, handing out free ADSL modem
      • Be aware that Yahoo Japan is actually a seperate company and only about a third of it is owned by Yahoo.

    • by hiryuu (125210)

      Who still uses Yahoo?

      A handful of years ago, I was looking for calendaring options; Google had just rolled out their offering, but I didn't have a Gmail or other Google account and didn't want one. I looked at Sunbird, but it wasn't going to be nearly as portable as I wanted it to be. Since I had a Yahoo account, leftover from my days of Yahoo messenger and chatrooms (but unused otherwise), I went that direction and have been very happy with it. I liked it even more after the beta and full roll-out of th

  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:14AM (#37338498) Homepage

    Microsoft buys Yahoo

    • by CSHARP123 (904951)
      What would MS gain by buying Yahoo? They are already serving bing search results. It made sense at that time. Now I don't see much gain for MS from this buy other than for the asian assests that Yahoo may have (Alibaba investment)
      • I don't think Microsoft needs Yahoo, but I could see them bidding on it in an attempt to get Google to buy Yahoo (as a defensive, keep-it-out-of-Microsoft's-hands maneuver). Then, as Google after Google has spent a chunk of cash and is trying to somehow assimilate Yahoo into their offerings, Microsoft could catch up to Google. Of course, this could backfire and Google could, wisely, realize that Yahoo offers nothing they don't already have and let Microsoft waste their cash.

        • by swillden (191260)

          Of course, this could backfire and Google could, wisely, realize that Yahoo offers nothing they don't already have and let Microsoft waste their cash.

          This. I can't see Google even bothering, even assuming that regulators would allow it. Regulators tend not to like the biggest player in a market buying the second-biggest player in the market. Plus, it's just not Google's style.

          (Disclaimer: I work for Google but I don't make strategic decisions nor do I talk to people who do. I just write code.)

      • What would MS gain by buying Yahoo?

        User convienince mainly. Currently if you are an IE user, to get an improved search engine convieniently at your finger tips, you need to install some software from real networks. If MS were to buy yahoo, they'd be eschew the current malware distribution model, in favour of including the Yahoo toolbar with the IE installer. I think you'll agree, this is a compelling reason for MS to buy Yahoo, and a situation where the real winners would be us, the consumers.....

      • by Zerth (26112)

        It is more likely that Alibaba would buy Yahoo, or at least buy back the 40something% of itself that Yahoo owns.

      • What would MS gain by buying Yahoo? They are already serving bing search results. It made sense at that time. Now I don't see much gain for MS from this buy other than for the asian assests that Yahoo may have (Alibaba investment)

        Yahoo! is pretty consistently ranked the top U.S. "web portal", meaning the place people bookmark, make their homepage, and their general pathway to other links (through Yahoo! News etc.): http://news.ebrandz.com/yahoo/2011/4013-yahoo-ranked-most-visited-us-site-in-march-2011-comscore-.html [ebrandz.com]

        On top of that, Yahoo! Mail has a substantial user base. Given Microsoft's already-close relationship with Yahoo! and its past offers to buy the company, I think they're the most logical buyer at this point. Also, th

    • by Vandil X (636030)
      First MS buys Hotmail and my Hotmail goes to crap... Now my Yahoo mail...
    • This is slashdot. I think you meant "by the end of a week from now."

  • There's a slashdot icon for Yahoo?

  • Whats up with company sales?
    Nokia effectively sold to MS
    Motorola sold to Google
    HP -> on the market
    Yahpp -> on the market

    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      Simple. When it comes to paradigms, shifts happen. We're seeing one now.
    • by debrain (29228)

      Sir –

      You've a noteworthy observation. Many mergers & acquisitions that would have taken place between 2007-2011 were put on hold (or impossible) because of the credit crunch.

      Thousands of lawyers in London & New York were put out of work because the M&A departments were vacant in 2009 (search for "black/bloody thursday law firm layoffs").

      Now that markets are becoming liquid again, M&A is coming back into vogue. We may be seeing a spike to resolve pent-up demand. Maybe the demand is over

    • Poor business models == being sold?

      Chasing revenues over profits == being sold?

  • Is this confirmed news, or is this likely to turn out to be a false alarm?

  • The old history: Suits are overvalued, the techs are treated like shit. So, the thinking part spreads and the glorified millionary czars believe the company is lacking "quality control" and clutter the place with spreadsheets, metrics and all the control-freak mumbo-jumbo. To improve margins, let's order the salary spreedsheet and fire the better paid employees. Then crap hits the fan, and the omniscient suits don't know what is going on, since the luck has changed so "unpredictably".

    Coward, A., "Traditiona

  • by Tridus (79566)

    Probably should have taken that $42 billion from Microsoft when you had the chance. But no, instead they let the MBAs run the place into the ground and now it's not really worth much of anything.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      They definitely should have done so. It made the top ten [zdnet.com] tech industry executive disasters.

      The offer was for more like $47bn, and was not in the interests of Jerry Yang, the f***wit.

  • Sometimes the askers make it too easy to pass up [yahoo.com]. Yes, I'm a proud troll.

  • Man, I would love to have a copy of that phone audio. The floor is open for guesses as to how the conversation went:

    "Um, hey Carol, this is the Board speaking. You suck. Security will be escorting you from the building."
    -or-
    In my best Jean Baptiste Emanuel Zorg voice "I am...very...disappointed. And if it's one thing I don't like...it's to be...disappointed." *BLAM*

  • I've actually been wondering about the process of a business putting itself up for sale. Out of pure self interest, I've got an online business I've been thinking about selling, and I wasn't really sure how to go about it. In part I don't know how to advertise without causing panic amongst the customers. I'm also not really sure what sort of valuation process applies to an online business.
    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Valuation is just an estimation.

      List the income, liabilities, costs, and monthly profits.

      If you make 1000$ in profit a month, that's a 12k a year business.

      Now, it may be that someone can swoop in and supercharge that business to incredible revenues and profits. But most likely they'll be making 12k a year after they buy it from you. This will help you figure out how much to sell it for. After that though, the terms can be anything.

      As to WHO to sell it to. I'd sell it to a competitor, unless your customers h

  • by Locutus (9039) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @12:29PM (#37341406)
    former Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang fought to keep Yahoo out of Microsoft's hands but Carl Icahn was too powerful. Although it took three years, he's now won and did what he said he would do in 2008. Oh well, another one bits the dust.

    There seems to be a pattern here. Products and industries where there are many competitors quickly drop to only 2 or 3 competitors when Microsoft comes in and drops billions into their money losing products to "enter" the market. Companies who made enough profits to stay in the market can no longer stay profitable when Microsoft comes in and finances their entry year after year after year with profits from Windows.

    So long Yahoo, it really was nice knowing you.

    LoB

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