Yahoo's management ranks are rapidly thinning as the Internet pioneer fends off a shareholder mutiny threatening to culminate in the firing...
SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo’s management ranks are rapidly thinning as the Internet pioneer fends off a shareholder mutiny threatening to culminate in the firing of Chief Executive Jerry Yang.
Three more executives are jumping ship, according to reports published Thursday by two blogs — AllThingsD and Techcrunch — and The New York Times. The reports were based on unnamed people with knowledge of the departures.
The latest reported defectors are: Qi Lu, an executive vice president in charge of Yahoo’s search and advertising technology; Brad Garlinghouse, a senior vice president who oversees communications tools like mail; and Vish Makhijani, a senior vice president in search.
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The news comes as Yahoo is said to be planning a major reorganization, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night.
Garlinghouse is the best known. In 2006, he wrote a scathing memo arguing Yahoo had gone awry and needed a major housecleaning. The so-called “manifesto” caused a stir when it was leaked to The Wall Street Journal.
Yahoo declined to confirm the departures but issued a statement expressing its confidence in “a deep and talented management team.”
“Yahoo continues to be a leader in our industry and remains a unique, exciting, and important place to work even as we experience the attrition that’s to be expected in the Internet industry,” it said.
Yahoo already lost four prominent leaders in the past week: two executive vice presidents, Jeff Weiner and Usama Fayyad; and the creators of Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing service, Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake.
The exodus could worsen Yahoo’s instability as Yang and his remaining lieutenants scramble to regain their bearings after spending five months grappling with an unwelcome takeover bid from Microsoft.
Hoping to overcome Yahoo’s resistance, Microsoft raised its original offer from $44.6 billion to $47.5 billion, or $33 a share. The software maker withdrew the bid May 3 when Yang sought $37 a share — a price Yahoo’s drooping stock hasn’t seen since January 2006.
Yahoo shares fell 18 cents to $22.73 Thursday.
Plea to Microsoft
Separately, one of Yahoo’s unhappy investors urged Microsoft to make a more compelling case for its bid to buy Yahoo’s search operations — a proposal that was trumped by an advertising deal Yahoo reached with Google.
Mithras Capital, which owns 1.7 million Yahoo shares, made the plea to Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer in a letter sent Thursday
If Microsoft can more clearly explain why its proposal is more lucrative than the Google deal, Mithras believes a majority of Yahoo shareholders will support activist Carl Icahn’s attempt to replace the board at Yahoo’s Aug. 1 annual meeting.
The new board then could back out of the Google partnership and accept Microsoft’s offer, wrote Mithras partner Mark Nelson.
Microsoft declined to comment on Mithras’ letter.
Facebook veteran heading to VC firm
Matt Cohler, a senior Facebook executive and one of the early employees of the social-networking phenom, is leaving to become a general partner with Benchmark Capital.
The departure comes at a critical time for Facebook, which has become one of Silicon Valley’s hottest companies. Investors last year gave the four-year-old venture a $15 billion valuation.
The social network, with more than 80 million members, wants to convert its traffic into profits with the eventual goal of an initial public offering.
To that end, it’s bringing in seasoned managers, including former Google executive Sheryl Sandberg, who joined as chief operating officer in March.
Cohler, 31, who helped recruit Sandberg, has distinguished himself as consigliere to two of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs: Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman.
Cohler is widely respected within Facebook, where he is Zuckerberg’s right-hand man and vice president of product management.
As someone in tune with users and employees, Cohler has been a standard-bearer of Facebook culture while helping drive the company’s strategy, organizational growth and product direction.
He will join the powerful Silicon Valley venture-capital firm, which has backed such companies as eBay and Juniper Networks, in the fall. He plans to remain a special adviser.
“There is never a perfect time,” Cohler said, but added Facebook has a “great management team” and is “really well set up to move forward.” The company has not yet worked out the details of how it will replace him, Cohler said.
— Los Angeles Times