Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s status at the company is so precarious, even security guards are asking if she’s going to be fired.
In a telling anecdote from a recent Bloomberg feature on Yahoo, a security guard at Yahoo’s New York office asked a reporter and editor, “unprompted,” whether Mayer would stay in her job. When they asked the question back to him, the security guard “shook his head, grimaced, and tugged at his collar.”
“Those hedge fund guys,” the security guard said. “They really don’t like her.”
Who is the security guard referring to?
Well, there are a few “hedge fund guys” that seem like they would love to see Mayer get the axe.
On Wednesday, Yahoo reached a settlement with Starboard, the activist hedge fund that’s been calling for the complete overhaul of the current board and management. Starboard will get four of its allies, including its CEO, Jeffrey Smith, on Yahoo’s board — despite only owning 1.7% of Yahoo shares.
Starboard said it would like “significant changes” across the executive-leadership team, and doesn’t seem to support Mayer’s existing turnaround plan.
Then, of course, there is SpringOwl Asset Management’s Eric Jackson, who dropped a 99-page presentation to Yahoo’s board in December making the case that Mayer should be fired (though not necessarily for the same reasons Starboard might think so).
And there are others as well. Activist investors have been recently pressuring Yahoo to sell its core business, which is reported to have drawn more than 10 bidders. The market ascribes most of Yahoo’s value to its Asian assets, including its ownership stake in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.
“The clock is ticking. I think the sale is a forgone conclusion now, so it’s unlikely that Mayer will stay on with whoever buys the core business,” Eric Jackson said.
Additional reporting by Eugene Kim.