Activist investor revolts against Marissa Mayer and Yahoo board
28 March 2016
Yahoo chief Marissa Mayer along with the rest of the company's board are the target of a much expected shareholder mutiny launched by activist investor Starboard Value.
Starboard unveiled plans to overthrow Mayer and the board in a letter, marking the opening salvo in a battle for control of Yahoo Inc that could drag into the summer.
This comes as the third attempted coup at Yahoo since 2008, all which had been led by shareholders fed up with management's fruitless attempts to turn around the company.
The uprisings witnessed in 2008 and 2012 had ended in the dissident shareholders gaining board seats and the departures of two of Yahoo's previous CEOs, company co-founder Jerry Yang and Scott Thompson.
According to commentators, Mayer's job was now on the line, as a prolonged revenue slump at Yahoo deepened nearly four years into her reign as CEO.
"We have been extremely disappointed with Yahoo's dismal financial performance, poor management execution, egregious compensation and hiring practices, and general lack of accountability," Starboard CEO Jeffrey Smith wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile, according to media reports, Microsoft was in preliminary talks with private equity firms about helping finance a bid to buy Yahoo.
Private equity executives approached Microsoft to assess the company's financial interest as Yahoo auctioned its core businesses, Reuters reported on Saturday.
According to Reuters, the involvement of Microsoft as a potential backer of a deal was aimed at preserving its long-standing search and advertising agreements with Yahoo.
Peggy Johnson, head of Microsoft's partnerships and acquisitions strategy, was part of the Yahoo discussions with private equity firms, an earlier report by tech news and analysis site Re/code had stated. According to the report, Yahoo was seeking $10 billion for its core businesses.
Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo's auction plan potentially included the company's advertising, search technology, Yahoo Sports and Tumblr blogging platform. Despite being an early leader in internet search, Yahoo had failed to consolidate its lead and fell behind rivals Google and Facebook who have captured a major chunk of online and mobile search and ad markets.