Well, well, well. After six years — and the last couple of those facing mounting criticism of his efforts in the corner suite — Hollywood transplant Terry Semel is out as chief executive officer of Yahoo. To add insult to injury (although he remains non-executive chairman, which means he’s hardly hitting the bread lines) the share price of the Internet portal jumped by more than five per cent in after-hours trading after the company announced the news. Yahoo is going back to the future for a CEO: co-founder and Chief Yahoo Jerry Yang becomes the new chief executive. Yang has a blog post about it here. He says that Semel:
“Refocused the company on key strategic priorities, and in so doing, helped Yahoo! increase our revenues nearly nine-fold from $717 million in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2006; boost our operating income from a loss in 2001 to nearly $1 billion last year; and create more than $30 billion in shareholder value during his tenure.
He helped grow our audience from 170 million to more than 500 million users globally, and he oversaw the expansion of our base of talented employees from 3,500 to nearly 12,000.”
This has to make Eric Jackson feel pretty good — he put together a Web-based protest group (mentioned by the Times UK and Wired, among other places) that got a significant amount of support from disgruntled shareholders, and took its criticisms to the Yahoo shareholders meeting. My friend Paul Kedrosky, who has been predicting this move would come, live-blogged the conference call.
I guess the pressure is on Jerry Yang now — although I’m sure his $2.2-billion net worth should be a comfort either way. Valleywag has a comprehensive “corporate obituary” on Semel and his reign here — and also points out that Jerry Yang is no Steve Jobs. Ouch. Painful but true, I suspect. Mike Arrington has a different take on the news at TechCrunch: why so sudden? Yahoo could have announced his retirement, etc. and taken its time. Instead, he is just gone and Yahoo turns to an old standby. That is a little odd.