Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Look Out Below!–But Yahoo's Battered Stock Isn't the Only Weak One in Tech

It is absolutely worrisome that Yahoo’s share price continued its downward swirl today, closing at a five-year low today at $17.75.

The downward drift far from the it-can’t-drop-below-$20 barrier makes it clear that Wall Street is valuing the company at close to what it could sell its assets off for and not much more.

This obviously puts additional pressure on the already squashed-down Yahoo (YHOO) management to perform.

In fact, with all this pressure, you’d think Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang would have turned into a twin of the cursed Hope Diamond by now.

But Yahoo is not the only Web company getting bashed by the weak economy and continuing mortgage crisis. In a bruising market, shares of eBay (EBAY), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) have also been down about four to five percent this week in an already lackluster period this year.

In fact, on a year-to-date basis, it is Google that is off the most on a percentage basis (see chart below; click on the image to make it larger), with Amazon being the most hardy performer.

Nonetheless, it is not a particularly good situation for the whole sector or the smaller Web 2.0 players that have banked their futures on having an IPO or being slurped up by the bigger players.

Of course, Yahoo is the most vulnerable to attack because of the last year of turmoil, especially Yang, but also longtime board members, who are perhaps even more at risk.

As BoomTown wrote earlier this week, Yahoo execs must find a way to turn around its business and fast, clarifying its focus and streamlining its units, before someone does it for them.

That does not mean anything will happen though, because newly minted board member Carl Icahn can no longer be an activist as an insider and he only has two other possible allies on the board, who also recently joined as part of his cabal.

Thus, it is highly unlikely Icahn could force Yang to resign at this point, unless it was on Yang’s own steam.

While a lot of names for possible replacements have been bandied about and laughably unsubstantiated reports of a secret deal with Icahn for Yang to resign are floated, this is just wishful thinking for some unhappy investors.

Nonetheless, a change could be forced via yet another agitated outside investor, one smart observer noted to me, who could start another noisy circus and demand a split of the company (search to Microsoft, the content and communications assets to one of many companies like News Corp., Disney, Comcast).

Such a move would require a lot of energy, which is lacking in the market overall right now. In addition, tangling with Yahoo has already ground up Microsoft and Icahn, as well as disgruntled major investors like Gordon Crawford.

So, even in its decidedly prone state, taking on Yahoo once again is probably not for the faint of heart.

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