Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Execs Under Stress–Whither Weiner?

stress

Yahoo’s board has been meeting today and, doubtlessly, its directors had a lot to talk about (more on that later!).

Of course, there’s the obvious topic of having to figure out how best to deal with the noisy stylings of billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who is waging a proxy war on Yahoo (YHOO) and calling for new management at the top.

But perhaps what the board should be focused on is the old management at Yahoo, especially in the levels just below the top, who have been operating the company under a lot of stress for far too long.

These would be those not involved in the deal–which has been essentially restricted to the board and also to CEO Jerry Yang, President Sue Decker and CFO Blake Jorgensen.

Yahoo’s operating execs have only been brought in when they are asked to assess the impact of possible options.

So with the clear-cut deal to be acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) seemingly off the table for now and a range of squishier partial ones being considered with either Microsoft or Google (GOOG), along with the continuing distraction of Icahn’s three-ring circus, it has not been easy for its execs to keep focus.

Thus, many continue to consider their options.

weiner

The latest speculation, for example, surrounds the fate of Network division EVP Jeff Weiner (pictured here), who has been on paternity leave for four weeks and will return to work next Monday, sources said.

Sources also tell me there will be a major internal announcement tomorrow and many quickly speculated to me that it would concern Weiner’s fate.

Not quite yet. But most at Yahoo I have spoken to do not expect him to stay long, even leaving within the next few weeks, pointing to the continued uncertainty at the company and also, I would imagine, sheer weariness.

Weiner came to Yahoo with former CEO and Chairman Terry Semel in the 2001, the last period Yahoo was in major distress.

And BoomTown has learned that this internal rumor is borne out by several sources within the venture capital community, who have been speaking to Weiner very recently about coming there as an executive in residence.

The obvious candidates for a new home for Weiner are the top firms, such as Accel Partners and Greylock Partners and perhaps even Benchmark Capital or Sequoia Capital, all of which have ties to Yahoo and have several former Yahoos on staff.

A Weiner departure would leave a big hole at Yahoo, and it is not clear which of his top four SVP reports would take his place–Front Door and Network Services’ Tapan Bhat, Brad Garlinghouse, who heads Yahoo’s communications and communities arenas, Media Group head Scott Moore and Yahoo Search’s Vish Makhijani–if at all.

Or even if Yang and Decker will keep the same setup in place.

That might mean another reorg, which has long been a specialty of Yahoo, to reorder its divisions even more leanly or to put more revenue accountability within the units.

schneider

Right now, that responsibility lies primarily with Hilary Schneider (pictured here), EVP Global Partner Solutions, who runs all ad sales.

Of all the top execs–even though she has reportedly been offered many jobs outside Yahoo–Schneider is expected to stay, having been brought into Yahoo more recently by Decker.

Translation: She is not exhausted by all the drama at Yahoo quite yet.


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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle