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Former Yahoo CEO and Co-Founder Steps Down

Jerry Yang is cutting all ties with the company he helped put on the map almost 20 years ago.

Yang formally announced his resignation in a letter to Yahoo Board Chairman Roy Bostock on Tuesday:

"My time at Yahoo!, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life. However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo! As I leave the company I co-founded nearly 17 years ago, I am enthusiastic about the appointment of Scott Thompson as Chief Executive Officer and his ability, along with the entire Yahoo! leadership team, to guide Yahoo! into an exciting and successful future."

Thompson, a former PayPal president, joined Yahoo earlier this month as its new CEO, stepping into the position vacated by Carol Bartz after she was fired from Yahoo last September.

Yang served as Yahoo's CEO from June 2007 to January 2009, when Bartz took over the role. After stepping down as CEO, Yang remained at the company as a board member. According to Yahoo's announcement, Yang's resignation, effective immediately, will remove him from all of his current positions at the company, including those in Yahoo's overseas properties.

From the start of his tenure as CEO, Yang was dogged by the problems inherited from his predecessor, Terry Semel, including unhappy shareholders, falling stock prices and profit margins, and an ascendant Google. One of the first major decisions Yang made as CEO was to lay off as many as 1,000 of Yahoo's employees to cut costs.

In early 2008, Microsoft began talks with Yahoo to acquire the ailing search and online advertising company for $44.6 billion, a significant premium over Yahoo's share price at the time. The talks turned less friendly when Yahoo didn't immediately respond to Microsoft's offer. After several weeks without a resolution, Microsoft began hinting at a potential hostile takeover if Yahoo didn't accept.

Throughout the negotiations, Yahoo's stance was that Microsoft's bid was below the value of the company. Reportedly, Yang was seeking an offer of $37 per share price. Microsoft's initial bid was $31 per share price, which it later raised to $33.

In mid-2008, Microsoft completely dissolved its bid for either a friendly buyout or a hostile takeover, concluding that the price of the deal was too high. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer blamed Yang for the deal falling through. However, at a tech conference later that year, Yang responded to the question "Why didn't you take the $33 a share, Jerry?" by saying Microsoft had been the one to walk away.

"A lot of people have replayed that in their minds. I'm no exception...[Microsoft] walked away from a public offer," he said. "We were ready to negotiate, but they withdrew...We believed that we were doing the right thing every step of the way...To this day, I would say that the best thing for Microsoft to do is to buy Yahoo."

Less than two weeks later, Yahoo announced Yang was stepping down from his position of CEO.

In a prepared statement on Tuesday, Bostock said, "Jerry Yang is a visionary and a pioneer, who has contributed enormously to Yahoo! during his many years of service. ... He has always remained focused on the best interests of Yahoo!'s stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and more than 700 million users."

Yahoo's share rose 4 percent in late trading on Tuesday.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the site editor of RCPmag.com.

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