Yahoo Ousts Terry Semel from CEO Post

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel announced his departure from the Internet stalwart. He had been under fire for the company's flagging stock price and a pay package last year that topped $71 million. Yahoo appointed company co-founder Jerry Yang as its new CEO and named Susan Decker as its president.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

Yahoo's CEO, Terry Semel, abruptly stepped down yesterday. In recent years Yahoo has been eclipsed by Google's success in search advertising. And that put the pressure on, as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN: Yahoo remains the most visited Web destination for Internet users in the U.S. But the company and its stock are under extreme pressure. Competitors, including Google, are coming on strong. And in a lucrative online advertising market, Google is the clear leader.

At a contentious shareholders meeting last week, some investors called on Semel, who earned in excess of $70 million last year, to resign. Yesterday he did just that, saying in a live webcast that it was the right time for new executive leadership. But he added that he and the board determined that senior executives already at the company should take over.

Company co-founder Jerry Yang will become CEO. Susan Decker will become president. Here's Semel.

Mr. TERRY SEMEL (Outgoing CEO, Yahoo): Frankly, as we talked about it, we felt more and more that we were kind of blessed to have both Sue and Jerry, and saw it as a great opportunity to have continuity rather than to try to start something all over again.

KAUFMAN: But Derek Brown of the Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald says he was a little disappointed that Yahoo, which in his words has lost quite a bit of momentum, didn't go outside the company for new leaders.

Mr. DEREK BROWN (Analyst, Cantor Fitzgerald): It strikes us that the team that will be leading the company going forward is in part the team that got them to where they are right now, which doesn't strike me as being the most obvious thing to do, given the challenges that they currently are facing.

KAUFMAN: Brown's firm recommends buying Google and holding Yahoo stock. Despite the analyst's concerns, investors yesterday pushed Yahoo shares up nearly five percent.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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