Yahoo’s Semel Takes His Lumps From Shareholders

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It’s easy to imagine Yahoo chief Terry Semel went home limping after yesterday’s meeting with shareholders, and promptly crawled inside a bottle of fermented comfort. Shareholders weren’t happy with his performance, and they told him so.

Almost a third of the shareholders at the meeting voted against Semel’s continuation as CEO, and there was no shortage of dissenters regarding his $70 million salary, reports BusinessWeek‘s Robert Hof.

The Hof (my apologies) also notes that when a proposal to match executive pay to executive performance was made, applause – widespread applause – was the result.

The only thing that miffs a shareholder more than a flat stock is a stock that is declining, and Yahoo has faced both undesirables all year. And mostly, they blame Semel.

While they also complain about Yahoo’s performance in relation to Google’s, this is a curmudgeonly fine line. Given that Yahoo owns 8.3 million shares of GOOG, what’s good for the Google is good for the Yahoo, too, with all of second place and a piece of first.

Media Post’s Tameka Kee describes a scene with similar hostility; one shareholder questioned the "fire in [Semel’s] belly." Semel reaffirmed there was a fire still lit there, perhaps gaining strength from one raging at his backside.

Shareholder grumpiness is not unexpected; it’s been coming for months. Executives have been bailing faster than Paris from the Clink.

Though Yahoo in the past has acknowledged its relative comfort in second place (which, at the time, was a shocking acquiescence to Google’s supremacy after so many consecutive months of losing market share), and though Yahoo still dominates the rest (MSN/Live being the nearest competitor with less than half of Yahoo’s presence), that makes little difference to bottom-line-minded shareholders.

Yahoo’s Semel Takes His Lumps From Shareholders
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