Playtime is Over for Chief Yahoo

Playtime is Over for Chief Yahoo
By Logan Mohtashami
Benzinga Columnist
October 01, 2011 9:40 PM

If you Google “Wean a Baby from its Bottle,” you learn one important fact. The bottle must go.

You can do it fast or you can do it slow, but in the end the baby has to stop the suckling. That is the nature of progress.

Someone needed to tell that to Jerry Yang a long time ago.

As a co-founder of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO), he had a hand in developing one of the early and successful internet companies, but then moved from rightfully calling Yahoo his baby, to becoming the baby. Jerry Yang turned into L’Enfant Terrible. He wanted his bottle, and he wanted his way.

When, in 2008, Microsoft came knocking on the door, with 47 billion dollars in hand, even though Yahoo had just come off of a terrible quarter, did Jerry jump at the opportunity to provide shareholder value?

He didn’t.

Instead, our little Jerry turned the offer down, and (as the rumor goes) spent the weekend in gleeful celebration that the adults had not been able to swipe his precious bottle from his hand.

Immediately thereafter, Jerry tried to get a partnership going with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). But that opportunity was squandered as well when Jerry’s comments regarding the unfair advantage that a Google/Yahoo partnership would have were made known to Justice Department regulators. The DOJ advised all parties that they would endeavor to block the deal, so Google walked away. And the stock came tumbling down once more.

Next, Jerry crawled back to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to ask for another buyout offer. This time, the door was slammed in little Jerry’s face.

Ultimately, these antics, and perhaps others not know to the press, got Jerry fired from the position of CEO — but Yahoo was not rid of him yet. He retained the title “Chief Yahoo”.

When Carol Bartz was ousted, Jerry reappeared as company spokesperson to say the company was not for sale (“Mine! Mine!”). Shortly thereafter Jerry backtracked, reassuring employees in an email that one of the options was to sell the company but it would take several months. During that time, he told them, a search would produce a new CEO.

Then rumors last week that Jerry Yang was back at Yahoo headquarters making decisions again brought the worst nightmare for shareholders .The idea that the baby and his bottle were still firmly entrenched sent shareholder moods and the stock price lower fearing once again Jerry would squash any hopes of a buy out. Hope dimmed among the adults hovering outside the door of Jerry Yang’s nursery.

What, the shareholders reasonably wondered, was he thinking?

However, like I said, you can wean a baby slowly, or you can do it fast. Time is finally running out for Jerry Yang. Adults are about to take charge.

Silver Lake Partners, Jack Ma from Ali Baba, and others have seen enough. Tyrants, tantrums and Enfant Terribles have no place in Corporate America.

When a company goes public, management and the Board of Directors have an obligation and duty to unlock shareholder value.

Jerry, in his own, self-absorbed world, never understood that concept.

Consequently, market forces finally came to bear. After years of Yahoo management ignoring their obligations to shareholders, now it is time for Jerry Yang to be weaned from Yahoo itself. Maybe Jerry will finally grow up or maybe he will just go away. Either option can only be good for the future of Yahoo.

It is the end of Jerry Yang.

Logan Mohtashami is a senior loan officer at his family owned mortgage company AMC Lending Group, which has been providing mortgages services for California residents since 1988