Jerry Yang finally resigned from Yahoo’s board yesterday. There are plenty of reasons it had to happen.
A big one: until yesterday, some Yahoo execs assumed their new boss, recently appointed CEO Scott Thompson, was just Yang’s proxy.
Earlier this week, one source told us this about Thompson: “Every other word out of his mouth is Jerry said this and Jerry wants this. I think he’s just a puppet for Jerry.”
Obviously this executive was wrong. As Yang’s resignation proved yesterday, Thompson is his own man at big purple. But more importantly, this was not the perception in Sunnyvale.
Because Thompson was plucked from relative obscurity for the big job, and because Yang was still on Yahoo’s board, still running around headquarters popping into meetings, and still calling himself “Chief Yahoo,” the perception was that Thompson was just Yang’s guy.
If that perception had continued, it would have paralysed Thompson.
Fair or not, Yang is now held responsible by shareholders and employees for many of the company’s mistakes over the past dozen years (refusing to buy Google for a tiny amount, refusing to buy Facebook for a tiny amount, refusing to sell Yahoo for a big amount).
Let’s be clear though: before Thompson has true credibility with Yahoo employees – and shareholders – one more person needs to go: Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock. That seems imminent now.