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Yahoo! cofounder! Jerry! Yang! quits!

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In a surprise announcement, Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang has said that he’s stepping down from all positions in the company, and from the board of directors of Alibaba, effective immediately.

In a letter to the Yahoo! chairman Roy Bostock, Yang wrote: "My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! As I leave the company I cofounded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo! leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future."

That last sentence seems to suggest that rumors of Yang getting together with private investors to buy out Yahoo! may be mistaken – or that Yang wasn’t able to convince people to splash out the cash. It might also indicate that a deal has been struck with Microsoft over a complete or partial merger, and Yang isn’t keen on the idea of Steve Ballmer popping by his desk to reminisce about the days when Microsoft was willing to offer up to $40 a share for the struggling portal.

"It has been a pleasure to work with Jerry. His unique strategic insights have been invaluable," said Bostock. “He has always remained focused on the best interests of Yahoo!'s stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and more than 700 million users. On behalf of the Board, we thank Jerry and wish him all the very best in his future endeavors."

Yahoo! shares rose on the news. ®

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