Jerry Yang Resigns From Yahoo

2:06 PM PST 01/17/2012 by Georg Szalai
Getty
Jery Yang in 2008

UPDATED: The co-founder of the online firm says "the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo."

NEW YORK -- Yahoo's stock rose in after-hours trading after the online company said that co-founder Jerry Yang has resigned from its board and all other positions with the company, including that of "chief Yahoo," effective immediately.

He also resigned from the boards of Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group Holding, thestakes in which analysts hope the company will sell.

Asset sales -- deemed more likely with Yang's departure -- could bring in as much as $13 billion, some of which investors hope they'd get in the form of a heftydividend. That sort of speculation partly fueled a 3 percent gain after theclosing bell while the stock was down fractionally to $15.43 during the regular session.

Yang's departure comes after the recent appointment of former PayPal president Scott Thompson as CEO and at a time when the online giant continues to explore its strategic options.Among them are investments from private equity firms and the sale of its Asian assets.

Some observers, though, have seen Yang as an obstacle to any significant deal, as he was when Yahoo turned down a $33-per-share acquisition offer from Microsoft in 2008. The stock quickly sank to the teens after Yang, CEO at the time, rebuffed the software giant and it has yet to recover.

There was speculation Tuesday that more board resignations, including that of chairman Roy Bostock, could be forthcoming.

Yang, whose net worth stood at $1.1 billion as of September, according to Forbes' annual billionaires list, co-founded Yahoo in 1995 with David Filo. The pair, along with early CEO Tim Koogle, oversawtremendous growth at Yahoo in the late 1990s and through Terry Semel's six-year reign.  But with competition coming from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others, revenue has stagnated the past couple years at around $6 billion annually, not much more than where it was when Semel stepped down as CEO in 2007.

Yang served as a member of the board since March, 1995. He was also the company's CEO from June 2007 to January 2009. A recent filing suggested he still owned 3.8 percent of the company, worth about $727 million on Tuesday.

Yang wrote in a letter to the board: "My time at Yahoo, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo. As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future."

"I am grateful for the warm welcome and support Jerry provided me during my early days here," said Thompson in a statement. "Jerry leaves behind a legacy of innovation and customer focus for this iconic brand, having shaped our culture by fostering a spirit of innovation that began 17 years ago andcontinues to grow even stronger today."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

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