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Yahoo! Shareholders Should Be Heeded, Not Attacked

Stocks in this article: YHOO GOOGL FB NSANY IPG

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Is a shareholder who says something negative about the management team leading that company being “selfish” or “short-sighted”? Is a critique of a CEO an “attack”?

I have been a shareholder of Yahoo! (YHOO) from 2006 to 2008 and then from December 2010 until today.  Combined that’s about 5.5 years that I’ve owned this stock.  So you can agree or disagree with my views on Yahoo! that the current management hasn’t been doing a good job and that it should unlock value for shareholders by selling to either Alibaba or SoftBank, but you can’t say I’m short-term oriented.

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I was criticized Wednesday in Business Insider by a former Yahoo! employee, Jeff Minich, who worked under Marissa Mayer in ad tech and then decided to quit.  By his own admission, “Marissa made decisions and leadership changes related to the premium display business that made it difficult for me to continue working there.”   

He goes on to say: “Marissa should have embraced these bright minds and incorporated their expertise and knowledge into her new native ad and mobile vision. She chose not to and Yahoo! display revenue, at least in the short term, suffered as a result.”

But he argues that I am wrong to “attack” her, and that he probably misjudged Mayer’s strategy. Now he thinks she probably made a conscious decision to sacrifice Yahoo!’s legacy display business in favor of a new native advertising revenue stream that will emerge from its ashes in the next one to two quarters. 

He points to some metrics in the last Yahoo! earnings report he believes indicate that a turnaround is just around the corner.  He argues I’m being short-sighted by wanting to see tax value unlocked in Yahoo! shares and criticizing Mayer.

I’ve been critical of other Yahoo! CEOs in the past.  I always disclose my share ownings in any written post.  I’ve heard the criticism before by some that I’m biased and just trying to cause a quick pop in the stock with my writing.

If only it was so easy to manipulate the stock price of a $37 billion company!  I don’t have that power. I don’t think even Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn or Dan Loeb has that power.

I think of a shareholder as “well-informed” and not biased.  Although I believe anyone can have a valid opinion, I tend to pay more attention to the view of a shareholder than a non-shareholder because they have presumably spent some time considering a point of view about a company before parting with their money to buy shares in it. 

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Shareholders must think there’s some combination of factors that can occur in the future which will cause the stock price to rise.  If those people are speaking out about why they’re disappointed in current management’s attempts to unlock that value, I tend to pay attention.

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