Jerry Yang Leaves Yahoo! Board, Management; What Will it Mean for Asian Assets?

Jerry Yang has left the building. Sixteen years after co-founding Yahoo!, and amid the company’s questionable performance in the recent years, Yang has finally cut his leadership ties to the company. Writing to board chairman Roy Bostock, the erstwhile Chief Yahoo says he plans to pursue “interests outside of Yahoo” and was “enthusiastic” about the company’s new leadership.

The move was largely seen as a way to appease shareholders who had long been critical of Yang and the Yahoo! board for botched attempts to turn the struggling company around. Yang was at the helm of Yahoo! when the company rejected a US$ 47.5 billion acquisition bid by Microsoft. Yang had also failed to negotiate the sale of Yahoo!’s stakes in Asian assets like Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan.

Yahoo! is currently valued at US$ 19.1 billion — far below its potential value at the time of Microsoft’s acquisition offer.

Yang’s resignation from the Yahoo! board, and that of Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan, comes two weeks after the appointment of former eBay executive Scott Thompson as CEO. Likewise, four other board directors are reportedly resigning, as well, as reported by AllThingsD.

Asian Assets

Yang’s departure from Yahoo! comes with a boon for both the company and Asian companies Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan. Yang was earlier unsuccessful in finding a buyer for Yahoo!’s investments in the region, which are valued at about US$ 10 billion. Yahoo currently owns about 43% of the privately-held Alibaba, and 34.75% of Yahoo! Japan.

Off-loading these assets can help Yahoo! move forward and re-align its investments with its business strategies. It can be noted that these Asian assets make up a big part of the company’s market capitalization. For instance, Alibaba is currently worth $32 billion, valuing its holdings in the company at about US$ 14 billion.

Even with Yang leaving the company’s management, though, he still owns a 3.8% stake, or 46.6 million shares of stock. Still, there is question on what particular deal Yahoo! will pursue. For his part, chairman Roy Bostock sees a bright future for the company. Is this the start of a new beginning for the Yahoo!?