Companies don’t go into tense proxy votes hoping for the best. They hire expensive solicitation firms to poll shareholders in advance, so they know where they stand. If the solicitation firms do their jobs right, the companies have a pretty good idea of where the proxy vote will come out before the ballots are counted.
Which is why the magnitude of the “truncation” error in Yahoo’s proxy vote is so bizarre. Jerry Yang and Roy Bostock each lost 19 percentage points of support when the error was corrected. 19 points! The results went from an overwhelming landslide to another-couple-of-big-shareholders- and-you-two- are-out-on-your-asses repudiation.
So here’s the question for Yahoo:
Given that you probably had a pretty good picture of where the vote was going to come out, why did you certify the original results so fast? Didn’t they seem surprisingly strong to you? (They certainly did to us, and we weren’t even that mad at you.) Didn’t you maybe want to check to make sure the (boneheaded) proxy firm had run its spreadsheet properly before you published the counts? Would you have double-checked the numbers if the initial results had said that Roy and Jerry had both been voted out?
We know the recount doesn’t change who won. And we know you’re desperate to put this whole nightmare behind you. But before you do, we’d love a bit more information.
*UPDATE: We just got the following kind anonymous note, presumably from someone who works for Yahoo’s Proxy Agent:
Mr. Blodget’s rant about the Yahoo voting error is not only ill-informed but ignorant and clearly shows that he does not understand the process. The Proxy Agent did do their job impecably. The error occures with the shareholder services firm that tabulated the count. Even after the correction it did not change the outcome at all, so why the moaning and bitching. How about correcting your ignorant rant blaming the proxy agent who had nothing to do with the vote tabulation?
We weren’t blaming the “Proxy Agent.” We were blaming Yahoo–for not suspecting that something was wrong with the count. If the error had been the other way around–subtracting 19 points of support for Jerry and Roy–we have no doubt that the error would have been caught before the results were announced. We don’t understand how the results could have been viewed as in keeping with the preliminary tallies produced by Yahoo’s proxy solicitation firm.
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