By now everyone has heard of the departure of Yahoo!’s CEO. The first I heard of it was on Infectious Greed (here and here are the articles I read, but when I went to get the links, I found this one, too), but shortly thereafter, Techcrunch and Mashable were weighing in on the situation, too. Valleywag has an interesting look on the Semel days at Yahoo!, too.
After reading the Valleywag article, it’s a lot less certain that Semel has really done a bad job. Recently, it’s easy to argue that the company has failed to perform, but performance is of course relative, and it might be a bit unfair that Yahoo!, and really any company that relies heavily on online advertising and an online platform for their business, is judged solely by the bar set by Google. What makes the situaiton more difficult is that Google doesn’t seem to be judged by the same standards as other companies and fails to have any real criticism. Looking at Yahoo!’s stock over the Semel-years and considering that timeframe, he really didn’t do that poorly.
I’m not trying to argue that it wasn’t time for Semel to go, but one must consider the reason for him being forced out, and really, he was forced out, might not necessarily be anything that he could have really prevented. Unfortunately, he was guiding a ship that is heading in at least a handful of different directions, none of which clearly define the company, nor could they be exploited on their own for the company to create the success the share holders demand. Yahoo!, as a platform and a portal, is so large in magnitude and scope that it is nearly impossible to turn in one direction, but it’s about as difficult to create enough traction in any of those directions concurrently to meet the expectations of those that inevitably hold the power. In the end, he has no choice, and a la Hollywood, the former Hollywood exec is riding off into the Sunnyvale sunset.