After years covering shareholder meetings, I'm quite used to the characters who often show up at these annual get-togethers to gripe or otherwise parade their favorite cause in front of the microphone.
But even allowing for the usual quotient of self-absorbed nut jobs who flock to these events, Yahoo's long-awaited stockholder meeting on Friday deserves special mention. The inmates had been given a free pass for the morning, and guess where they headed for the day's entertainment?
The one common theme? There was no question too simple that these guys didn't stretch to two full pages of transcontinental, wonder-of-me bloviation. (These folks should discover Twitter. They'd fit right in.)
Hard as it is to acknowledge, I actually felt sorry for Yahoo's board as it had to feign interest. Maybe the worst offender was the dude from Amnesty International. After stretching the meaning of word "tendentious" to such painful extremes with a pointless peroration, someone's bound to nominate his question as a YouTube classic on why authoritarian repression sometimes can serve a larger public good.
Then there was the guy who could have been Stuttering John's long lost dad, somehow getting two separate turns to ask his equally daffy questions
And let's not forget the peripatetic retiree from the University of California at Berkeley, who apparently is too rich for his own good. He hopscotches around the country to attend shareholder meetings at companies he invests in and demonstrate in public his galactic brilliance. Not.
At one point it got so bad that I briefly wondered whether the individual board members receive enough compensation for sitting through this circus. As I say, it was a brief moment of compassion considering the fat cat payouts Yahoo's awarded these folks through the years. Still, they earned part of their pay today.
Note to Dan Farber: If I get asked to do this next year, throw in a day's vacation as the quid pro quo.