Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Sticks and Stones: Third Point Launches “Value Yahoo” Blog (Which Does Not Value Current Leadership)

In another high-profile parry in its increasingly aggressive proxy fight against Yahoo, activist shareholder Third Point has launched an extensive Web blog to support its case with investors called “Value Yahoo.”

Along with a long statement — a blogifesto of sorts — about what it will take to fix the Silicon Valley Internet giant, Value Yahoo also tries to keep up the pressure on Yahoo’s board and management.

The purple-themed site — this is Yahoo’s well-known color — features a humorous take on Yahoo’s now dearly departed neon sign in San Francisco, with the banner: “Yahoo Shareholders Deserve Overdue Representation!”

It includes a section on “Failed Leadership,” info on its “Road to Recovery” slate of alternate directors and even an FAQ and mission statement.

“We believe in Yahoo!, its loyal users, committed employees, dedicated partners, and the potential of the brand,” it reads, in part. “Yahoo! shareholders, employees, and partners have suffered for too long with a revolving door of management teams and Directors who have been unable to seize opportunities despite the Company’s enduring role as the premier online source for news, sports, business, entertainment and email.”

By the way, in a clever dig, there is also a Facebook site for Value Yahoo — patent lawsuit or no, you can “like” Third Point’s effort.

Here, for example, is one of Value Yahoo’s charticles:

The goal of all this, presumably, is to get Yahoo to give in to demands for several board seats using its directors, including Third Point’s Dan Loeb. So far, ongoing discussions between Loeb and Yahoo have failed to stop the shareholder battle, which comes in the midst of the company’s wrenching restructuring.

Last week, Yahoo said it had appointed three new directors to its board. In a pointed slap at Loeb, the company said it had rejected him specifically, although Yahoo added that it was willing to accept one of his current choices and another that was mutually agreed to.

Loeb reacted to that, um, badly, with another letter last week that said Yahoo leadership was living in an “illogical Alice-in-Wonderland world.”

The war of words continues with the new site, which Third Point said it will maintain actively like a blog, with updates, charts, filings, outside news stories and more.

(Since Yahoo has apparently banned me from its internal news offering to employees, according to more sources than you can shake a stick at, I hope they can see my work here!)

In its newest post — titled “Why Are We Running for Election to the Yahoo! Board?” — Third Point presents an argument for other shareholders to act, even though Yahoo has actually made a lot of the changes that Loeb has been pushing for already.

(In fact, that’s an FAQ question on Value Yahoo, natch: “Yahoo! has made changes to its Board. Hasn’t Third Point already gotten what it wanted?” Short answer: Vigilance, since they are well-known backsliders over there!)

As the firm notes in its reasons-why essay, with the original bolding on the Value Yahoo blog:

“After years of failed leadership and poor governance, Yahoo! shareholders have a chance to inject experienced, independent voices aligned with their interests. The “Shareholder Slate” — Daniel Loeb, Harry Wilson, Michael Wolf, and Jeff Zucker — seeks a voice and a choice for Yahoo! owners hurt by the current “Legacy Board’s” track record of value disintegration, and wants to prevent the Board from simply nominating their handpicked replacements — the “Insider Slate” — for Yahoo!’s board.”

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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