Did A Technologist CEO Blow It?

Posted: July 10, 2008 in Technology and Business
Everyone knows I’m a big believer in technologist running technology companies.
Did Jerry Yang, the returning founder and inserted technologist CEO of Yahoo, blow it?
The answer has to be yes… despite me wanting to really, really answer no.
I’d break my response into three parts:
(1)  He inherited an awful, terrible mess.  Terry Semel, former NON-technologist CEO of Yahoo, fleeced YHOO shareholders for over 1/2 billion dollars while being obliterated (growth-wise) by GOOG.  That’s a pretty lousy torch to pass.
(2)  Unfortunately, Jerry tried to "fix" the company from the stance of a profitable company — hard to blame him for that since YHOO is.  However, he clearly underestimated how burnt shareholders felt and how much they wanted to see action & blood… i.e., he should have tried to "fix" the company like it was horribly broken and out-of-money.
(3)  As such, it’s hard to blame him… he never got the chance to be a technologist CEO… because once MSFT went on the prowl, what they needed was a deal-maker.
Alas, CEO’s don’t get cut any slack.  Certainly Jerry isn’t.  Unfortunate but part of the job description.
P.S.  I know what you’re thinking… maybe Semel was that guy after all?
NO WAY.  Semel had years to pull the trigger on a MSFT deal (at values rumored to be in the $40’s).

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