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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Yahoo brass was all business here at its annual shareholder meeting Friday.
Yahoo is looking forward to adding dissident shareholder Carl Icahn to its board, chairman Roy Bostock told shareholders, while CEO Jerry Yang focused his comments on explaining how Yahoo is looking to take even better advantage of “this Internet opportunity.”
In another well-received presentation, president Sue Decker discussed the positive feedback the firm has received for new product innovations.
“My team, Jerry’s team … is really proud of what’s happened,” Decker said, adding that while much attention has been on a possible sale of the company, executives have been much more focused on customers and improving their experience.
New board members are expected to help elevate Yahoo’s game, Bostock said. “Frankly, the board looks forward to that,” he said about adding Icahn. “Carl is a smart guy” and will be a “very productive member” of the board.”
The board will also add two Icahn confidants “between now and Aug. 15,” Bostock said after spending about 10 minutes running through the Microsoft deal chaos of recent months and ensuring investors the Yahoo board was always focused on shareholder value. “There was never a compelling deal proposal put on the table” at the right price, he said.
Bostock also lauded the board and executive team for keeping the company’s financials on track with 2008 guidance despite the distractions. “That’s one hell of a performance,” he said.
Yang was also all business and focused on explaining how his team has been working to improve Yahoo’s products and financial performance.
He suggested that Yahoo is “on the verge” of seeing some of the benefits from this “rewiring” of the past year.
In signs that the Web market is still in the midst of unfolding its huge potential — or “this Internet opportunity” as he called it — Yang said global Web users will grow from 1.22 billion in 2007 to 1.56 billion in 2010. And advertising spending expected to expand from $43 billion to $78 billion. “The Internet is the only industry really growing in advertising,” he said.
Yang highlighted that the firm is investing in key growth opportunities, such as international and mobile.
With its powerful brand and collection of online properties, he said the company is bullish.
“There is no other company on the Internet that has this collection of assets” plus leadership in display advertising,” Yang said. “And we are a major player in search, second only to Google.”
Despite its strengths, Yahoo is looking to optimize its products and services, and Yang explained that Yahoo has in recent months focused on two things.
First, it has concentrated on creating “better and better starting points for more and more consumers” and their Web experience. Key examples he pointed to are the Yahoo home page, email product, search and content sites, such as Yahoo Finance, News and Sports.
Second, Yahoo has been looking to strengthen its suite of “must buys” for advertisers via Yahoo’s own sites and those of partners, such as Comcast, eBay, CNET, Viacom, Wal-Mart.
Decker lauded new products, such as search improvements and Buzz, which she said has overtaken Web content recommendation tool Digg.
Both Decker and Yang touted the mobile future. “Ultimately, we think mobile will be the starting point of the Web,” Decker said.
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