Imagine this: a company has a $35 billion market cap, a P/E of 50, annual revenues of $5 billion, annual profits of $500 million, 60% gross margins, and about $3 billion in the bank.
Nice fundamentals, right? Now imagine the same company being characterized as "embattled." What could possibly be so wrong with this picture that an outcry from investors got the CEO booted?
The company in question, of course, is Yahoo. And what's wrong is that archrival Google has figured out how to mint money with search ads and now boasts a market cap of $170 billion and $3 billion in annual profits. The bad news for Yahoo is that advertising, for the most part, is a zero-sum game. Google's good fortunes spell boohoo for Yahoo.
It doesn't help that, in 1998, Chief Yahoo and co-founder David Filo encouraged Google's founders to start a search-engine company. Or that, in 2002, Yahoo had a chance to buy Google for $5 billion and passed.
The irony of those missed opportunities isn't lost on anyone; every Yahoo employee and shareholder has felt its demoralizing effects, not to mention Yahoo's deteriorating share price. All it took was a whopping $71 million executive pay package for CEO Terry Semel to put investors over the edge.
Less than a week after the company's annual shareholder meeting, Semel was out and Chief Yahoo and co-founder Jerry Yang was in. Until then, Yahoo had employed seasoned executives at the top--first Tim "TK" Koogle and later Semel. Still, founders Filo and Yang have remained actively involved in the company's evolving business strategy and technology.
But Jerry Yang as a turnaround CEO? I admit--I didn't see that coming.… Read more