Yahoo has become the internet’s biggest drama queen. But in a worrying sign, it may be losing its ability to deliver that drama.
The company’s shareholder meeting on Friday was, as Bob Keefe of Cox News Service put it, “rather ho-hum“:
“What was expected to be a firestorm of shareholder fury fizzled into a mundane annual meeting for Yahoo on Friday, despite lingering disappointment.”
Of course, there was no shortage of drama leading up to the meeting.
Carl Icahn, whose proxy battle had threatened to dethrone Yahoo’s entire board of directors, ended his fight with a whimper when he reached a settlement with Yahoo – three board seats, including one for Icahn himself.
And T. Boone Pickens, who like Icahn is known for his corporate takeovers, decided he’d rather lose money than hold Yahoo stock.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had dumped all 10m shares he held and called Yahoo’s management “pathetic“.
Fortune’s Yi-Wyn Yen observes that Pickens may have lost around $50m on his Yahoo bet.
At Yahoo’s shareholder meeting on Friday, all nine Yahoo board members up for re-election were re-elected and despite all of the drama, “the resistance wasn’t as intense as last year.“
So what gives?
How is it that with such anger directed at Yahoo’s board for the company’s woes and its botching of negotiations with Microsoft, the board managed to keep their jobs?
The answer is simple – the smart money (or more appropriately not-so-smart smart money) had already left the building.
As the AP’s Michael Liedtke notes:
“Many investors had already made an emphatic statement about their feelings
by dumping their holdings in Yahoo shares. The company’s stock price has fallen by 31 percent since Microsoft withdrew a takeover offer of $33 per share in early May.”
In other words, many shareholders didn’t vote with their ballots – they voted with their wallets.
In my opinion, this is not a positive sign for Yahoo.
When a non-negligible number of shareholders would rather dump their shares and move on rather than fight for a company’s future, it certainly shouldn’t give remaining shareholders cause for hope.
In my opinion, regardless of whether or not you believe that Yahoo should have taken the money and run, it’s hard to argue that Yahoo’s current management and board of directors haven’t proven capable of turning the company around despite their hefty compensation.
Coupled with the company’s capitulation to Google, it’s hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel for Yahoo.
Unfortunately, because so many former shareholders decided to throw in the towel, the shareholders that are left seem resigned to believing in Jerry Yang and company against all odds.
Perhaps their best hope for change from within is new board member Carl Icahn.
Unfortunately, with Icahn talking about “working harmoniously” with Yahoo’s board and building a “beautiful friendship,” it appears that Icahn’s fighting days may be over too.