Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Can Yahoo’s Busy New Board All Row in One Direction?

Here’s the good news: The nearly-new board of Yahoo is chock-full of experienced and active operators from a variety of backgrounds that are critical to the future of the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

And the bad news? The nearly-new board of Yahoo is chock-full of experienced and active operators from a variety of backgrounds that are critical to the future of the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

In others words, in almost completely upending its director roster over the last several months, Yahoo has given itself a new lease on life, but has also created a significant challenge in forming a cohesive governing structure that can work together in fixing all that ails Yahoo.

Among the important decisions that this new boy band — and they are, as usual, all men save for one woman — has to come to agreement on within the next months: Settling its patent-infringement lawsuit with Facebook; deciding on a permanent CEO — either selecting current interim leader Ross Levinsohn as permanent or someone else; approving a strategic plan for the company that actually sticks; and, most of all, figuring out a governance style that is strong without being too meddlesome.

Which should make Yahoo’s annual meeting on July 12 much more interesting than most.

One thing is clear: The days of overwhelming control in the hands of a few directors — as has been the case in recent years under departed Chairman Roy Bostock — are over.

In its place is a situation with a number of strong factions under new Chairman Fred Amoroso, who appears to have taken a consensus approach to managing the board.

It’s not as if he had a whole lot of choices, said numerous sources, especially noting the aggressive involvement of activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of Third Point — who joined the board with two others in the settlement of a proxy fight — in all aspects of Yahoo of late.

Along with helping finally complete a partial sale of Yahoo’s assets in China, Loeb has also be active in discussions with Facebook over a patent settlement, and has also been searching for new board members and possible new execs for Yahoo.

“Dan has a lot of ideas,” said one person close to the situation, “and he is not shy about communicating them.”

To be fair, it’s a welcome change from the lackluster performance of the previous board, which seemed almost comatose at times as Yahoo pinged from one crisis to the next.

And Loeb is also joined by several other directors who are taking a more substantive role, including Weather Channel CEO David Kenny, American Express CMO John Hayes and former Discovery Communications COO Peter Liguori.

“Every one of them has a lot to say and has definite opinions on what needs to be done, since most have run major businesses,” said another Yahoo source. “Which either means 11 times the noise, or 11 times the help.”

Or, perhaps, 11 times the fun (but only for me).

Speaking of fun, here’s the comely One Direction showing how it’s done, in the music video “What Makes You Beautiful”:


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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