Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

As Yahoo Board Meets Tomorrow, Investors Ready Thumbscrews

The Yahoo board will be meeting in Silicon Valley tomorrow to discuss a wide range of worrisome issues facing the troubled Internet giant.

Meanwhile, several sources said, even more private equity investors are weighing making major investments in the company, all pretty much aimed at ousting said directors.

So far, that has only been Third Point’s Daniel Loeb, whose massive hedge fund now owns 5.1 percent of Yahoo.

Loeb appears tomorrow at the high-profile Delivering Alpha investor conference in New York at 2 pm PT, where he is expected to take another swing at Yahoo’s board.

His next moves, sources said, could include buying up more shares to put the pressure on and also presenting his own alternate slate of directors, much as activist investor Carl Icahn did several years ago at Yahoo.

Translation: Forget AOL’s CrunchGate — this is big-boy corporate battling!

Add that to the pile on Yahoo’s board meeting agenda, along with some other critical issues that include: Outlining the criteria for any CEO candidate and a discussion of headhunting firms to hire; a review of strategic alternatives, including a presentation by its investment advisors, Allen & Co.; and how to stabilize the company and reassure its dusting-off-their-resumes employees.

Finding answers to these questions is going to be difficult enough, but the ever increasing pressure from outside investors is going to make it even harder.

Some definite tire-kickers reportedly looking at a bid include Providence Equity Partners, Silver Lake, Blackstone, Texas Pacific Group and even KKR.

While KKR has reportedly close ties with Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock, he is now the main target for pretty much everyone else.

That includes Loeb, as well as other major Yahoo shareholders.

That’s no surprise: Bostock, who is also on the boards of Morgan Stanley and Delta Airlines, has presided over a series of gaffes at Yahoo since he became chairman in 2008 (he’s been on the board since 2003).

Those have included: Yahoo’s bungled effort to stave off a takeover by Microsoft several years ago; the too-long enthusiasm for CEO Carol Bartz, who was hired in early 2009 and fired last week; sitting unusually still as competitors such as Facebook, Google and more have out-innovated and outgrown Yahoo; and, of course, the falling knife of a stock, which has dropped precipitously since Bostock has been in charge of the board.

As Loeb wrote in a letter he sent to the company:

“It is time that certain members of this Board were held accountable for its past failures and their individual roles. Accordingly, we insist that Mr. Bostock, who championed Ms. Bartz’s hiring and led the charge against the Microsoft deal, promptly resign from the Board.”

Said another source with knowledge of the situation: “Under Roy’s leadership, this weak and bumbling board took too long to fire a clearly failing CEO and now has no plan, except throwing up their hands and hoping someone comes along.”

Here is one certainty: Someone is going to come along and it is not going to be pretty.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald