Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Burkle to Leave Yahoo Board–Is Bartz Solidifying Control (And Is Bostock Next)?

Like victims in the thriller, “Ten Little Indians,” the directors of Yahoo involved in its Microsoft takeover debacle are moving off its board.

Today, it’s billionaire businessman Ron Burkle (pictured here) doing the leaving, after serving since 2001, when he was brought onto the Internet giant’s board by former CEO Terry Semel.

So far under the tenure of CEO Carol Bartz, who came to Yahoo (YHOO) in January 2009, Carl Icahn, the activist shareholder who was also a big player in the MicroHoo fight, departed in late October 2009.

(Icahn has since been dumping Yahoo shares, which reached a high of 75 million and are now at about 12 million, as reported by Digital Daily’s John Paczkowski earlier today.)

In addition, Maggie Wilderotter–who was once thought to be a candidate for Yahoo’s CEO job after former CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang stepped down–left in late September 2009.

Yahoo named Sue James, a former high-ranking Ernst & Young exec, as a new board member in January.

More appointments are likely as Bartz adds directors of her choosing.

Yahoo said in a press release this afternoon that Burkle, who made his giant fortune in the supermarket business, had decided not to stand for re-election at its 2010 annual stockholders’ meeting.

Speaking for BoomTown alone, it is a welcome departure, since it was Burkle, along with Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock, who was most influential and involved in key decision-making in Yahoo’s disastrous battle with Microsoft (MSFT) in 2007 and 2008.

The fight wounded Yahoo badly, both on Wall Street and within the organization, leaving the Silicon Valley icon struggling to return itself to relevance and growth.

Here is the full press release from Yahoo about Burkle’s leaving:

Yahoo! Announces Ron Burkle Will Not Stand for Re-Election to Board

SUNNYVALE, Calif., Feb 16, 2010–Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ: YHOO) announced today that Ron Burkle has decided not to stand for re-election to the company’s Board of Directors at its 2010 annual stockholders’ meeting in order to devote more time to his other business interests. Mr. Burkle has served on the company’s board since November 2001.

“On behalf of our entire board, I would like to thank Ron for his distinguished service and invaluable contributions to our company and board,” said Roy Bostock, chairman of Yahoo!’s Board of Directors. “Yahoo! and its stockholders have benefited greatly from the counsel, insights and objectivity Ron has brought to the company during his nine years on the board. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

“It has been a great privilege to serve on Yahoo!’s board and to work with such an outstanding group of people,” said Ron Burkle, managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies.

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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