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Jerry! Yang! to! quit! as! Yahoo! CEO!

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Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang is quitting the company's CEO post, five months after rejecting a $47.5bn takeover bid from Steve Ballmer and Microsoft.

The company announced late today that its board is searching for a new CEO, and once it finds one, Yang will return to his former post: "Chief Yahoo!"

Chairman Roy Bostock - who was also instrumental in stonewalling Ballmer's offer - will lead the new CEO hunt, working alongside the directors and "in consultation" with Yang. After stepping down, Yang will continue to serve on the board.

"Over the past year and a half, despite extraordinary challenges and distractions, Jerry Yang has led the repositioning of Yahoo! on an open platform model as well as the improved alignment of costs and revenues," reads a canned statement from Roy Bostock. "Jerry and the Board have had an ongoing dialogue about succession timing, and we all agree that now is the right time to make the transition to a new CEO who can take the company to the next level. We are deeply grateful to Jerry for his many contributions as CEO over the past 18 months, and we are pleased that he plans to stay actively involved at Yahoo! as a key executive and member of the Board."

In rejecting Microsoft's $47.5bn bid, Yang and Yahoo! forged a search advertising pact with arch-rival Google. But the Mountain Viewers backed out of the deal earlier this month, after the US Justice Department threatened an antitrust suit.

Yang then seemed to revive talk of a Microsoft deal, but Ballmer didn't bite, sending Yahoo! stock tumbling below $13 a share. Yahoo! shares stood at $10.63 at today's closing bell, but rose to $11.10 in after hours trading following the company's announcement.

Microsoft's June offer was $33 a share.

"From founding this company to guiding its growth into a trusted global brand that is indispensible to millions of people, I have always sought to do what is best for our franchise," read Yang's staement. "When the Board asked me to become CEO and lead the transformation of the Company, I did so because it was important to re-envision the business for a different era to drive more effective growth. Having set Yahoo! on a new, more open path, the time is right for me to transition the CEO role and our global talent to a new leader. I will continue to focus on global strategy and to do everything I can to help Yahoo! realize its full potential and enhance its leading culture of technology and product excellence and innovation." ®

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