Kara Swisher

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Outgoing Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock’s Farewell Letter (And Other Stuff)

Earlier today, I had reported that Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock was stepping down.

He is, and the full letter he just released saying so is below.

Bostock did not say in the missive who will be Yahoo chairman in his place. Intuit CEO Brad Smith has a full-time job, and the newly installed Weather Channel CEO David Kenny does, too. Among the current directors, that would leave Sue James, Patti Hart and newly installed Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson — or one of Yahoo’s new board members.

In the letter, Bostock outlined the departures of four board members and the addition of five more directors (two of which were just named); did a little back-patting of his recent efforts to turn Yahoo around (after presiding over the board that got the Silicon Valley Internet giant into this mess); noted that the Asian talks to sell Yahoo’s stakes there are proceeding (it’s coming!); gave Thompson a thumbs-up (go, Scott!); and delivered kudos to Jerry Yang, the co-founder who left only weeks ago.

“Working with Jerry was always a delight,” wrote Bostock.

(Me, not so much, I would guess! Bygones?)

All kidding aside, Bostock has been the subject of a lot of criticism about Yahoo’s troubles, both deserved and undeserved, most especially for the non-sale to Microsoft several years ago. Many, including activist shareholder Daniel Loeb most recently, have called for his resignation.

It has not been an easy job, to be sure, so it must be a bit of a relief for the longtime advertising exec, who serves on other prominent boards, to finally pull away from the Yahoo black hole.

So, who’s next?

One interesting line in the letter, which everyone already knew, was that none of the various bids from outside investors have passed muster.

Wrote Bostock: “We have engaged with potential investors and reviewed proposals concerning an equity investment in the Company, although at this time there have not been any proposals which have been deemed by the Committee to be attractive to our shareholders.”

Here’s the Bostock letter:

Yahoo! Releases Chairman’s Update for Shareholders

SUNNYVALE, Calif., February 7, 2012 – Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company, today released the following shareholder update from its Chairman Roy Bostock.
February 7, 2012

Dear Fellow Shareholders:

I write today to update you on the actions the Yahoo! board has taken, and the actions it is pursuing, to increase shareholder value and position the Company for growth. These actions result from a process I initiated about six months ago in a special meeting of the independent directors in which we analyzed the reasons why Yahoo! was not meeting either our own expectations or those of our shareholders.

The board decided then to move aggressively on three fronts to position Yahoo! for future success: one, we initiated a search for a new Chief Executive Officer with a vision and set of skills to lead Yahoo! into the future; two, we undertook a comprehensive strategic and structural review of the business; and three, we decided to assess the composition of the Company’s board of directors relative to its ability to enhance the prospects for Yahoo!’s future success. We have made progress on all three fronts.

First, and most importantly, we have appointed Scott Thompson as CEO to lead our company. Scott is a capable and dynamic leader who brings the experience and expertise the Company needs to achieve robust growth and success in the marketplace. Over the coming months and years, Scott will lead an outstanding team of Yahoos to deliver engaging user experiences driven by innovative products.

Second, we have made significant progress on the comprehensive strategic review which is overseen by the board’s Transactions and Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by director Brad Smith, the CEO of Intuit. The Committee’s guiding principle has been to assess alternatives which would increase value for all Yahoo! shareholders, and the Committee has been open to any transaction or initiative that would serve this objective.

As part of this review, we have pursued a wide range of discussions with potential partners. We have engaged with potential investors and reviewed proposals concerning an equity investment in the Company, although at this time there have not been any proposals which have been deemed by the Committee to be attractive to our shareholders. We are also in active discussions with our partners in Asia regarding the possibility of restructuring our holdings in Alibaba Group and Yahoo! Japan. The complexity and unique nature of these transactions is significant. While we continue to devote significant resources to these discussions, we are not in a position at this time to provide further detail or to provide assurance that any transaction will be achieved.

Finally, the board has concluded that in order to accelerate the Company’s transformation, the combination of a new Chief Executive Officer with an enhanced team of independent directors would provide Yahoo! with the expertise and perspectives necessary to drive innovation and growth going forward. Therefore, Mr. Joshi, Mr. Kern, Mr. Wilson and I have volunteered not to stand for re-election at the next shareholders’ meeting.

Furthermore, the board today elected two highly qualified independent directors, Alfred Amoroso and Maynard Webb, Jr. Mr. Amoroso served as President and CEO of Rovi Corporation until December 2011 and, among other positions, had previously served as the President, CEO and Vice Chairman of META Group, Inc., the President and CEO of CrossWorlds Software, Inc. and as a member of the world-wide management committee of IBM Corporation. Mr. Webb, the Chairman of LiveOps, Inc., served as that company’s CEO until July 2011. Prior to that, Mr. Webb was Chief Operating Officer of eBay and Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Gateway, Inc., in addition to management, leadership and board positions at several other companies spanning his 30-year career.

The board continues its search for additional independent directors. This search is being led by director Patti Hart, CEO of International Game Technology, Inc., who chairs our Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. We anticipate announcing additional directors to round out the board as soon as this process concludes.

Separately, as previously announced, Jerry Yang has resigned from the board of directors and other positions within the Company to pursue his many interests outside of Yahoo!. Working with Jerry was always a delight. He is a visionary and a pioneer who contributed enormously to Yahoo! since he co-founded the Company in 1995. He will be missed. The board thanks him deeply for his service and commitment to the Company.

Thus, following this year’s Annual Meeting a majority of Yahoo!’s directors will be new to the board this year, and all directors will have joined the board since 2010. We believe that this reconfigured board, with a fresh set of perspectives and diverse set of skills, will enable the Company to move forward even more aggressively.

It has always been a privilege for me to serve as Chairman of Yahoo!. The employees of Yahoo! remain the heart, soul, and future of the company. And with Scott Thompson leading them, they are the reason why I believe Yahoo! will create significant shareholder value over the coming years.

In September, this board moved proactively and decisively to improve the performance of the Company for the benefit of its shareholders. These actions could not have been accomplished without the support and active participation of each director on the board. For that, I thank them. And I thank them for the knowledge, expertise, talents and commitment they have brought to Yahoo!. We all take pride in the fact that we are positioning Yahoo! for success in the future. Yahoo! is an incredibly strong brand with formidable assets. I have every expectation that under Scott’s leadership, working together with the reconstituted board, the Company will thrive for many years to come.

Sincerely,
Roy Bostock
Chairman of the Board


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work