Terry Semel stepping down

Wow. Terry Semel is stepping down as CEO of Yahoo!:

Yahoo!, the world’s second-largest search engine firm, announced Monday that Terry Semel would no longer be the company’s chief executive officer. He is being replaced by Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

I’ll have to ponder on the implications for a while..

Later: Hmm, Jerry Yang seems to be saying that he plans on being a regular CEO, not an interim CEO. More and more interesting. Jeremy, c’mon, give us your take..

41 Responses to Terry Semel stepping down (Leave a comment)

  1. I guess you have a lot of pondering to do?

  2. From the non-Internet savior to the non-techie scapegoat, talk about a reputation free fall. Should be interesting times at the big Y!

  3. Harith

    I read it as: GOOG did it to him ๐Ÿ™‚

    “Semel has come under pressure from investors in the past year as the company has fallen further behind top rival Google (Charts, Fortune 500) in the online advertising market.”


    Yahoo will now try “headhunting” Omid Kordestani ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. There was an article in the WSJ a week or so ago about Semel’s compensation being high and some activist shareholder’s being unhappy. If I was smart, I would have interpreted that as a “buy” sign.

    But I don’t see Yahoo’s problems as being a management issue. Unlike Google, they came into the business as a human directory site, and they were (back then) good at it. Slowly they transitioned into a portal, with a lousy paid directory and inferior search engine. Some of their add-ons are nice (groups, mail) but it’s not a business blan to merit billions in market cap.

    Google does well because you keep enhancing your basic product, search. Microsoft gets by because they stick to their basic vision, desktop monopoly (I love how their search traffic peaks with new OS releases having IE as the default browser). Yahoo is stumbling because they lack a reason to exist.

  5. Yahoo has a reason to exist. I’m just not sure it’s for search.

  6. Hogboy

    Did Google recently penalize Yahoo for excessive cross linking?

  7. If you have to sit back and contemplate it, this is probably a great article to read while you’re at it –



  8. They moved about $70 million on their balance sheet each year.

    I think they should just concentrate on email. It seems like the general public loves their email service for some reason.

    Sign a deal with Google to do search and make money like everyone else that is tanking, aka “The AOL Move”.

  9. “Wow.”

    Are you really surprised? Look at the stock price of YHOO since he came to Yahoo.

  10. Kelly Jones

    Ya know, Yahoo could make millions if they simply went back to their old model of putting directory results above Google results. That is, if they allowed us to pay a small fee for directory results which received higher ranking they way they used to and did it correctly. Yahoo lost me years ago (and my support) when they couldn’t figure out how to charge me. Just lame.

  11. Lew

    Guess that’s what happens when the upstart comes along and throws you off your pedestal. They were king of the world before Google. They got complacent pure and simple and let 2 college guys with a great idea come in and take their place. Word to the wise, just when you think your “all that”, your really “all not”.

  12. busy week for ppl steping down ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. It is not hard to see why top Executives become paranoid and sometimes become unethical or greedy.

    Terry has done everything possible to help Yahoo – people expect miracles.

    Yahoo has in fact made great strides – he has kept it from falling far behind Google, like MSN or AOL has.

    People are sometimes very bottom line oriented, they do not look at perspectives from a standpoint of damage control – only black and white numbers.

    Yahoo’ s search just is not making leaps in relevancy!

    On their official blog, it they had just interacted with the comments and engaged more – they could have uncovered what was wrong.

    They would just post a ‘weather update’ and ask for feedback – never any give and take, never any engagement.

    It is unlikely that Yang could do any better than Semel.

  14. Dave (original)

    I would love to know the facts behind that move!

  15. I guess he was pressured into quitting.

  16. Did he jump or was he pushed…

  17. Likely a combination of both – given a very handsome parachute and invited to try it out. ๐Ÿ™‚


  18. As a Yahoo and Google stock holder, I would not buy anymore Yahoo stock as a result of this news. It sounds like Semel is still there anyway. He will just be out of the limelight.

    I also deal with Yahoo for many different programs, Sponsored Search, Search Submit Pro, Pay Per Acquisition. These guys need leadership. Everything is always messed up. I doubt this change will make much of a difference.

    With this lack of leadership, things will still be spiraling down for Yahoo.

  19. As I’ve thought for a few years:

    Look for Yahoo to go back to it’s old model of showing the directory with the Google SERPS. I believe they were better off and would be in the future.

  20. Nate

    I wish Jeremy Z could spell as well as you, Matt.

    Keniki, I think you meant Yahoo, not Google…re: wanker destruction?

  21. Nate

    Yahoo has so many problems it’s ridiculous. Their Directory submission program is janked up (try renaming a domain that you’ve already 301 redirected – hah!). SSP replaces your great organic rankings with the paid version (just try it and see!). Their invoices are infuriatingly unhelpful. I’ve gotten emails from them regarding super-secret backend login stuff (that noone at Yahoo could even explain to me) with links to a page that only linked to itself (essentially a dead-end). Their search API’s are befuddling (just try applying for one). I could go on. Yahoo is run by a bunch of Yahoos, and the best thing that could happen would be for them to get bought out by MSN and reengineered from the top down.

  22. David

    From what I’ve seen of some of Yahoo’s more recent changes this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

    Matt is Google looking into digital signatures to stop the fake Google notice phishing?

  23. Found something that virtually completes what G is trying to do.

    I should imagine it would not be too difficult to host this on G’s servers with password entry

  24. I still use my.yahoo as my primary news info. I always use google for my searches. I spend 10 time more per month with google adwords than I do yahoo though which I think is not uncommon and consistent with Google’s revenues versus Yahoo’s.

    One thing I have noticed in the last year or so is that yahoo stores have started ranking very well in google search results. Someone over there must be spending some time on their stores service SEO in general.

    Maybe fees off stores doing well as a result of high ranking in google search results is their next revenue stream ๐Ÿ™‚ .

  25. Keniki, I’m going to prune some of your comments; if you post 7-8 comments in quick succession, it doesn’t give everyone else a chance to converse as much.

    Steve, neat stuff when you think about storing data in the cloud.

    It would be interesting to know more about the circumstances of Terry’s departure. I’m not surprised that it happened (though I think Semel added a lot of value, esp. in his decision to buy Overture/Inktomi/AltaVista/AllTheWeb), but the abruptness and the timing were unusual. I had several good discussions about post-Semel strategy with other Googlers though.

  26. JLH

    With that comment, I’ll start reading the blog again, I was afraid it was becoming the all-keniki-all-the-time show

  27. Hi Matt,

    i thought you really got a lotta pondering to do.

  28. Personally, I think this is one of those decisions that sounds like it will have a lot more impact than it actually has.

    Yes, decisions are made at the top, and Semel’s at the top…but they also have to be filtered down through the chain of command. In a company the size of Yahoo’s, that can take months or even years. As a result, a lot of the changes that will be made by a new head honcho will overlap with a lot of the changes that result from the (d)evolution of the Yahoo! site in general.

    I’d also agree that Yahoo! is pretty lost right now. They’re a directory, they’re a search engine, they’re a games portal, they’re an email provider, they’re a news source, and they can’t do any of it right (especially the email provider…no one loses more legitimate emails than Yahoo! mail servers).

    I also haven’t forgiven them for messing up All the Web. I loved that search engine…it was #2 behind Google for me. I had to switch to Gigablast as my #2 (which I like, but it’s not the same.)

    Time to gut Yahoo! and redo it from scratch. Like Rosenthal said, time for a raison d’etre.

  29. I think the challenge is that Google’s PR efforts pit them against Google in the eyes of the public. Google is far superior. Yahoo should focus on differentiating themselves by focussing on things they are strong (?) at like email, groups, etc.

    I’m also not sure that a move in a new direction (removing Semel) should result in replacing him with Jerry Yang. I think they need a fresh perspective.

  30. Oops, I meant Yahoo’s PR efforts pit them directly against Google in the eyes of the public. Sorry.

  31. The Yahoo/Semel bashing is a bit perplexing, I am sure he tries to do his best like any other person. I actually like Yahoo and think that the results are fairly relevant, but not quite as good as Googleโ€™s results. But I also like the results in Ask.com (but the marketing for Edison is not very good).

    Yahoo can put in place whoever they want as SEO, but I doubt it will be noticed by anyone but investors, the brand has just worn too thin. Hopefully Google doesnโ€™t just jump in and try to acquisition Yahoo search, teach them to fish Matt. There is plenty of Ad revenue to go around.

  32. Deleting Keniki – how will we know what to make of all the important news?
    I’m very glad to see a founder back in charge. Page and Brin help energize Google and that energy has been missing at Yahoo for years. How about a Founders Volleyball match at the Google Dance in August?

  33. Yahoo is going fast enough by getting more traffic from Google. I hope this wasn’t the reason for Terry Semel.
    Yahoo with a huge SEO structure.

  34. Yahoo is making strategic moves, late as usual.

  35. Matt, maybe this is the wind of change for Yahoo. Are you ready for a new challenge? ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. This may have some interesting impact on Yahoo…

  37. yahoo has not made any sense to me for a long time now. I don’t use them for search anymore becouse the results are not relevant. I mean really, I do lots of Real Estate related searches to see what is going on, and when I do a search on a very competitive search term and all that comes up are the national lead selling companies on the first page, I know that those supposed organic results are bought and paid for. especially if I then do the same search in google and 8 out of the first 10 positions have local Real Estate Agents who do lots of business and web promotion.

    Why would the results be that drastically different if someone were not cooking the results??

  38. All Terry Semel did was buy Overture… even I knew that would make Y! profitable for a while. Good luck Jerry, good bye Terry.

  39. Are you really surprised? Look at the stock price of YHOO since he came to Yahoo.

  40. Yahoo is making strategic moves, late as usual.

  41. Look at the stock price of YHOO since he came to Yahoo.