Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yahoo CEO Faces Angry Shareholders

From KGO in the Bay Area:

By David Louie

Jun. 12 - KGO - Yahoo's chief executive faced angry shareholders today, at their annual meeting, who are pushing for big changes in management and in the way Yahoo filters Internet content in China

As shareholder meetings go, it was orderly, cordial and informative. But there was an under-current of tension as a small but adamant group of Yahoo stockholders tried to light a fire under a company they say is languishing.

Yahoo used to be one of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley. Then along came Google, and now Google generates more revenue in three months than Yahoo does in a year.

That puts CEO Terry Semel on the hot seat. He's been leading Yahoo for six years, earning an estimated $71 million dollars last year -- the most of any CEO of a public company in the country.

Eric Jackson owns 96 shares of Yahoo. He posted a plan on YouTube to oust Semel and several other directors up for re-election to the board. The proposal lost 2 to 1. Still, Jackson thinks change is in the wind.

Eric Jackson, Ph.D., Dissident Yahoo Shareholder: "I think that they can't look away from these results. There will have to be some changes in the coming days, the coming weeks, at the board level, which we think can only be positive for Yahoo shareholders."

Criticism is growing that Yahoo has cooperated with authorities in China to identify e-mail users. This has led to the imprisonment of critics of China's government.

A proposal by New York City pension funds to curb Yahoo content filtering in China was rejected.

Patrick Doherty, New York City Comptroller's Office: "They're looking to curry favor with the Chinese government and play ball with them, and they think that that's more important than preserving freedom of speech, freedom of expression."

Yahoo says the issue is too large for one company and needs to be addressed between governments.

Jim Cullinan, Yahoo Public Affairs Director: "We call on the State Department to continue to engage the Chinese government to go and free these people and also do not limit the ability for them to use the Internet and enjoy those freedoms that other people get to enjoy."

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang read a four-page statement about Yahoo's efforts to address Internet censorship and human rights. You can read the complete document here.

Yang says he met with State Department officials as recently as last week.

Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.

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