Few people on Wall Street have played a bigger role than fund manager Eric Jackson in shaking up Yahoo’s management over the past decade.
His activist campaign was instrumental in getting ex-Yahoo CEO Terry Semel to step down in 2007, while Carol Bartz was fired from the CEO position a few months after he publicly called for her ouster in 2011.
Now, Jackson wants current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer out.
But he doesn’t own enough Yahoo shares to make the call, so he’s trying to round up major shareholders to rally around his plan. That means he’s talking to a lot of Yahoo investors and is pretty well-plugged in to what the street’s thinking.
And according to a new Vanity Fair post written by Jackson, it looks like investors have little faith in Yahoo’s chances of turning things around. To illustrate their thinking, Jackson shared this conversation he had with one Yahoo shareholder:
One senior hedge-fund manager who owns Yahoo stock laughed at me, in December, when I suggested the notion of a turnaround. “You like it?,” he told me. “I’d sell it to you for a dollar. Take it. Have it.”
When I countered that I realised it was a melting ice cube, he cut me off: “Melting ice cube? No. We’re way past that. This thing is an evaporating puddle of water.” Needless to say, he wants to see someone buy it, and buy it quickly.
One person’s thinking doesn’t represent the whole group of investors. But there’s been multiple reports of internal dissent and dysfunction at Yahoo that’s led to a number of executive resignations recently. Activist investor Starboard has also sent a letter to Yahoo’s board demanding management change last week.
Plus, Yahoo employees seem to be losing hope in the current management. According to Glassdoor, only 34% of the employees believe the business outlook is getting better, with words like “senior management, upper management, and decision making” being used most frequently to describe Yahoo’s problems.
Yahoo is expected to announce big reorg plans in the coming weeks. It also reports earnings later this month.