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Jerry Yang's exit from the CEO role at Yahoo! (YHOO) was inevitable.

The big question is why Yahoo! is even bothering to look for a replacement. Surely


(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

will want to put its own cronies in charge. Isn't that inevitable, too?

Yang fought Microsoft's overtures and the $33-per-share takeover offer,

Yahoo! shares

have dropped to about $10, and now Yang's stepping aside. That's no coincidence.

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Personally, I feel bad for Yang. He never had a fighting chance. The

stock market

collapsed out from under him as the crisis in the

financial sector

engulfed everything in its path. The

economic slowdown

is now heading straight into recession, and online advertising is shriveling up.

Yahoo! may well have been better off without Microsoft. But it looks like we'll never know.