Jerry Yang - Slugworth to Google's Willy Wonka
How did it come to this?
I Need an Adult
When Yang took over the CEO position from Terry Semel in June of 2007, Yahoo! had already become the stagnation nation. Nobody ever expected Yang to have to handle a grownup situation like the Microsoft buyout offer that came nine months later. His failure to take his money and shut the fuck up sent Yahoo! on its death spiral. Microsoft's bid was $31 per share, which at the time was a 62 per cent premium to shareholders. With Yahoo!'s stock hovering triumphantly around $9 per share right now, you have to wonder: Are Jerry Yang's decisions worse than decisions made at random? I mean, even on the SAT, if you guess at every answer, statistically, you're going to be right 25 per cent of the time.
The real fuck-up wasn't Yang's playing footsie with Microsoft's offer, it was his refusal to admit that he was in way over his head. After broadcasting his incompetence to Microsoft, Yahoo!'s shareholders and his employees, he stayed on as CEO. We can't stop here. This is bat country.
Still unsure as to whether Yang's leadership was a comedy or a tragedy, Steve Ballmer gave up. Like a girlfriend with too much emotional baggage, Microsoft figured that putting up with Yahoo!'s bullshit would really just make things worse. One of the classic characteristics of crazy girlfriends is that they don't know that they're crazy, and Yang is no exception. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal's adorably terse Kara Swisher, when asked if he had any fucking clue what he was doing, Yang replied:
...in this uncertain environment, I think I am absolutely the right person. Times like this require a leader who really understands this company and its customers, and I think I do. The world is a different place today than even a month ago and I think I am the best person to guide Yahoo through this volatile time.
Roughly translated, that means “No.”
Don't Forget To Take Your Massive Truck of Fail With You
Finally, ten months after he should have quit, Yang is throwing in the towel. Of course, before he packs his shit, he will lay off 10 per cent of the workforce and run an informal competition with himself to see just how low he can send the stock price of the company before the other 90 per cent up and quits. Microsoft isn't interested in a buyout anymore - rightfully so. The top talent fled months ago, earnings are in the shitter, and morale among employees is just shy of fueling a mutiny.
Yang is still going to keep the once playful but now annoying title of Chief Yahoo!. Whatever his role in the future, for the sake of everyone still associated with the company, let's all hope that he just takes his money and shuts the fuck up. ®
Ted Dziuba is a co-founder at Milo.com You can read his regular Reg column, Fail and You, every other Monday.