Friday, July 02, 2010

Yahoo! Is Losing Its Yodel

7/1/2010 5:00 PM EDT

Yesterday, after the market closed, Yahoo!'s(YHOO - commentary - Trade Now) board of directors announced that it was authorizing a stock buyback of $3 billion. Obviously, it believes that the stock is a good value. It's ironic that this board gets to authorize the use of shareholders' dollars to make these repurchases. Six out of the 10 members were responsible for turning down Microsoft's (MSFT- commentary - Trade Now) buyout offer two years ago. What's more, they've done little but drive down the Yahoo! stock price over the past nine years. If there were any justice in the world, these directors would have had to shell out the entire $3 billion for buybacks from their own pockets.

It's the same old story.

Four years ago, I started complaining about the drift of this company. Then-CEO Terry Semel allowedGoogle (GOOG - commentary - Trade Now) surpass it, letting two opportunities we know of to buy Google slip through his fingers. And despite the company's widely known brand and impressive traffic, Yahoo! was stuck on a downward slope in terms of stock price and influence in the tech world.

We've had two different CEOs since then, but what's really changed at the company? Not much.

Even more baffling is that Yahoo! shareholders keep re-electing the company's board of directors. Last Thursday, at the Yahoo! shareholder meeting, everyone, including a couple of newcomers, got elected easily. I took very small comfort in the fact that the holders of 85 million shares voted against the re-election of Art Kern, who has been on the board since the company's foundation 15 years ago and who's been basically retired during that time. And the holders of 73 million shares voted against the re-election of Chairman Roy Bostock, who infamously chastised Yahoo! shareholders at the 2008 meeting, saying that Microsoft never really had any intention of buying Yahoo!, so the board couldn't be criticized for botching the offer.


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