Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

On Yahoo’s Shaky Future: Well Said

Here are two pieces this week, from the multitude of them about the continuing turmoil at Yahoo (YHOO), that really stand out for me.

Both encapsulate the dicey situation that the troubled Internet company finds itself in now–which is to say very dicey.

One from The Wall Street Journal’s Dennis K. Berman–titled “Who Played It Worse: Microsoft or Yahoo?”–comes to the only conclusion: Both.

Wrote Berman: “Never have so few failed so many for so much at stake.”

Money quote on Yahoo, referring to its ad-outsourcing deal with Google (GOOG):

Consider the state of Yahoo now: Thrust into the arms of Google, it now is forced to admit it can’t develop the technology to compete head-on with the Googleplex. It is as if IBM were to admit it could no longer build a big server, or Toyota were to give up on the Corolla and start selling Honda Civics.”

But a more devastating indictment of Yahoo and its CEO and Co-Founder Jerry Yang comes from New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, called “Oh, Jerry, It’s No Longer Your Baby.”

While Nocera, whom I know and admire, is not saying anything new about Yang’s glacial management of the company and Yahoo’s boneheaded handling of the Microsoft (MSFT) situation, his bracing prose in the form of a poison pen letter sums it all up perfectly.

Wrote Nocera, as he shoved the shiv in: “I haven’t seen this much contempt for shareholders since Robert Nardelli [pictured here] ran Home Depot.”

After recounting the sins against Yahoo shareholders, here’s the money quote:

Jerry, you’re a billionaire because people all over the world bought your stock, and trusted you to do right by them. That’s the compact you make when you take a company public: you get to be really rich, but in return, you have an obligation to do everything you can to ensure that shareholders get a healthy return on their investment. It doesn’t matter that you would like Yahoo to remain independent, or that you can’t stand Microsoft. Your feelings aren’t supposed to get in the way of your fiduciary duty.

A takeover by Microsoft was your last, best hope of rewarding your long-suffering shareholders. Now that opportunity is gone. It says here Mr. Icahn is not going to go as gently into the night as Mr. Ballmer did–and if I were a betting man, I would be taking odds that your days as Yahoo’s CEO are numbered.

It’ll be better for everyone to have someone in that role who understands who he’s supposed to be working for. Wouldn’t you agree?”

I would–but much more on that diciest of subjects for Yahoo next.