Yahoo Inc. said Terry Semel will step aside as its chief executive and be replaced by co-founder Jerry Yang, as the Internet icon attempts to reinvigorate its business and regain investor confidence.
Mr. Semel, a former Hollywood executive who joined Yahoo in 2001, will remain chairman in a non-executive role. In a conference call, Mr. Semel acknowledged that investors were frustrated with the company’s recent performance, noting “none of us have been satisfied.”
The Sunnyvale, Calif., company also named Susan Decker as its new president. Ms. Decker, a former equity-research analyst who joined Yahoo in 2000 as chief financial officer, was recently named the head of the company’s advertising business. She will now oversee the company’s advertising, audience and publishing operations and said she plans to integrate these units.
Shares of Yahoo surged following the surprise announcement. In after-hours trading, the stock gained 6.2%, or $1.69, to $29.
Wall Street likes the decision obviously. It strikes me that the company didn’t quite feel ready to elevate Sue Decker, who was appointed president (effectively COO), as CEO despite widespread speculation that she was the heir apparent. Hence Jerry Yang taking the helm. Here’s Jerry Yang’s post from Yodel Anecdotal.
This is a precarious time for Yahoo! It has to stabilize and restore confidence, not simply of investors but rank and file Yahoo! personnel who are ultimately more important. It also has to find a reinvigorated vision and some new direction.
Here’s the Yahoo! press release.