Kara Swisher

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Yang Says “Not for Sale”: All Hands on Yahoo’s Slippery Deck!

At a prequel for the many VPs of Yahoo to the all-hands meeting for all 13,500 employees of the Silicon Valley Internet giant that is taking place at 11 am, Yahoo co-founder, director and former CEO Jerry Yang told the group the company was “not for sale.”

Even though, of course, it was hiring advisory firms, such as Allen & Co., to explore strategic options. Many justifiably feel “for sale” is just what Yahoo is.

Instead, Yang reassured the troops that it was business as usual at the company, in spite of the abrupt firing of its current CEO Carol Bartz yesterday.

One attendee emailed me: “Really?

Yang told the group that the aim was to grow revenue and profit, but did not put forth a specific plan as yet. He also said the search was on for a new CEO.

Meanwhile, interim CEO Tim Morse spoke only at the end of the meeting, for the last 10 minutes.

Morse continued to be Yang’s sidekick at the all-hands meeting later, in which they reiterated their no-sale motto.

Still, the troops were restless and the event included a lot of pointed questions from employees about the ouster of Bartz and how that was going to get the company growing again.

One employee asked the board to give Bartz’s $10 million severance package to charity, to much applause.

Another query was about the shift on Bartz by Yahoo’s Chairman Roy Bostock, who praised her performance earlier this summer at the annual meeting.

How, asked the employee, did Yahoo go from full support of Bartz to fired? The basic answer from Yang: Things change!

Another employee asked about the bid to buy the Hulu premium video service. Americas head Ross Levinsohn’s answer: Yahoo did not need it to win.

Both Levinsohn and product head Blake Irving stressed how big Yahoo still is, although Yahoo’s kind of big today might not mean better.

Employees — I love them for channelling exactly what I would have asked — pressed Morse on when the strategery would be done this time. A few months, he said.

But perhaps the toughest query was about how did the board fire the CEO without first having a plan in place, which the questioning employee noted had further worsened trust issues with Yahoo leadership.

It got the biggest applause.

Trust us, said Yang.

That’s a big ask for beleaguered Yahoo staffers these days.

Meanwhile, Yahoo filed a new-less 8-K regulatory filing today about the Bartz firing.

In it, Yahoo wrote: “No new compensatory or severance arrangements were entered into in connection with these leadership changes. Ms. Bartz will receive severance benefits
for termination without cause as provided in her employment and equity award agreements.”

Here it is:

YHOO-20110907-8K-20110906

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik