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Yahoo! execs! stick! it! to! the! man!

Microsoft switches on the telly

Jerry Yang celebrates his first year as CEO of Yahoo! today, but with so many execs choosing to exit stage left, it’s not exactly an anniversary he’ll want to shout about.

Over the past week many of the beleaguered internet firm’s key players have upped sticks in what some observers see as an increasingly vocal protest against Yang’s management style.

Yesterday the co-founders of Flickr, the husband and wife team of Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield, announced their departure. Yahoo! bought the photo site in 2005.

Earlier this week executive veep of Yahoo’s network division Jeff Weiner also handed in his resignation.

The company’s high-profile developer Jeremy Zawodny and chief data wonk and VP of research and strategic data solutions Usama Fayyad both announced last week that they were leaving Yahoo! for pastures new.

Yahoo! has of course been battling with Microsoft for most of this year in a will-they-won’t-they soap opera-like tussle that ended in acrimony.

Yang’s unsatisfying dalliance with MS head honcho Steve Ballmer as well as the shouts and screams coming from activist investor Carl Icahn over the past few months led to Yahoo! rejecting Microsoft’s bid to buy the company at $33 a share, altogether worth close to $50bn, late last week.

Redmond had initially tabled a $31 a share, about $44.6bn, bid on 31 January. But Yahoo! co-founders Yang and David Filo held out for $37 a share, giving Ballmer his opportunity to walk away from the talks.

By last Thursday, Yang terminated any further acquisition discussions with Microsoft, preferring instead to hitch a ride with Google in a search, advertising and IM deal with the internet giant that Yahoo! stressed isn’t a merger.

Microsoft searches for remote control

However, despite executives apparently voting with their feet in response to Yang’s recent management decisions about the direction Yahoo! should be heading, Microsoft has over the past few days responded – some might say, quite desperately – with an express advertising strategy of its own.

The software giant yesterday hastily unveiled its tactics to speed up investments in Live Search just days after Google and Yahoo! agreed to its online ads love-in by bigging up plans to create a new search technology centre in Europe.

Now, in its latest flurry of advertising activity, the software giant has bought Waltham, Massachusetts-based TV ad company Navic Networks for an undisclosed sum.

The firm’s senior veep Brian McAndrews, in a square-eyed swipe against Goo-Hoo!, said in a statement late yesterday: "Television media represents the largest percentage of advertisers and agencies' media budget today.

"Together, Navic and Microsoft will deliver addressable television advertising solutions to help our partners better manage media spend by increasing advertiser reach and ROI, and maximising publisher yield on television advertising." ®

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