Yahoo! Rally Fails to Hold

Shares open flat a day after Semel's surprise departure.
Publish date:

Updated from June 18




would put it this way.

What was the reason for the timing of CEO Terry Semel's

resignation from the company's top slot, less than a week after he assured shareholders that he had what it took to heading up the company?

To make sure everything went smoothly with his eventual resignation.

"The truth is that I've long been talking to the board about a smooth succession with senior leadership," Semel said during a Monday conference call.

But Semel's succession is more slapstick than silky smooth. And while newly appointed CEO Jerry Yang is a strong candidate, he's hardly a surefire way to tackle all of Yahoo!'s problems. The company's thinking about its strategy, meanwhile, remains much the same despite the changes.

Yahoo!'s stock rose more than 4% in after-hours trading on the news, but a cynical point of view would hold that the deck chairs have simply been rearranged on the Titantic.

To understand the awkwardness surrounding Semel's succession -- and the uncomfortable situation Yahoo! still faces -- consider the situation of Yahoo!'s senior management. The company announced the abrupt departure of its chief technology officer just two weeks ago. To replace him, Yahoo! assigned co-founder Jerry Yang as interim CTO.

However, Yang will now take the role of CEO, leaving co-founder David Filo to focus more on technology in the interim.

Want more? Check out TV video.Vishesh Kumar discusses the changes at Yahoo! with TV's Farnoosh Torabi.

As part of Monday's changes, Sue Decker will now serve as the company's president and will head up the company in a move that was repeatedly described as a "partnership" between herself and Yang.

But Decker was appointed the head of Yahoo!'s Advertiser and Publisher group, a division formed in a high-profile shake-up in December that was supposed to fix the company's problems. Decker's move left the CFO spot open, a position the company has only recently filled.

Decker will continue to handle the Advertiser and Publisher group. But she will also now handle Yahoo!'s Audience group -- another newly formed unit for which Yahoo! has been seeking a chief.

Yang is highly respected within Yahoo! and is known as a technological visionary, but given his top position at the company, it's unclear how the company will get new ideas at the top -- or really do anything differently.

The same goes for Decker, who has been adopting an increasingly public role lately but also will be hard-pressed for new ways to make contributions at the company.

Semel, whom Yang described as a mentor, also will continue as a nonexecutive chairman at Yahoo! rather than making a clean break. That could further limit new ideas at the top of the company.

Yang said his appointment followed an extensive consideration of both internal and external candidates by the company.

The company also took the unusual step of assuring that Semel's resignation was not driven by new financial developments at the company, and backed the financial estimates it has provided for its upcoming second-quarter earnings announcement in July.

Yahoo! also said the progress of its highly anticipated Panama ad-ranking platform was on track, much as it had told investors just last week.

But none of this is new. The more things change at Yahoo!, the more they stay the same.