Over at Jerry Yang's shareholder snoozefest today, Chinese political protesters showed up outside the hotel lobby. They set up exhibits shaming Yahoo for handing over bloggers' Yahoo Mail accounts to the Chinese government. Although Jerry Yang has already answered to Congress and settled with the bloggers' families, the protesters who showed up are still mad. Or opportunistic, given the expected media attention this year on Yahoo's normally sleepy annual meeting. The bloggers remain in Chinese prisons. As I tried to take more pics — on a public street outside the hotel — guys in suits came out and told me to leave the premises. And here I thought I was in the United States.
(Yang) said 'If we do this deal with Google, Yahoo will become part of Google's pole and Microsoft,' he said, 'would not be strong enough in this market to remain a pole of its own.
Any Yahoo can tell you that working at the troubled Web giant doesn't pay. But for former CEO Terry Semel, it really didn't. Last year, he made negative $6.2 million, Docu-Drama notes. The accounting oddity, uncovered in an SEC filing, has to do with stock awards he forfeited when he left the company last year. Don't weep for Semel: He still owns half a billion dollars in Yahoo stock, and has sold plenty, too. What shareholders may find more upsetting are the left-and-right raises Yahoo's board handed out to top Yahoo execs in 2007, a year whose horrible performance set up Yahoo for Microsoft's hostile bid. Here are the lowlights:
After Valleywag published leaked screenshots of Yahoo Buzz last month, Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan sent a companywide email saying that the person who leaked Buzz "had been found and dealt with." In light of the Hitwise traffic statistics charted above, let's hope that "dealing with" our tipster meant Callahan personally fetched him or her an extra latte from Beantrees.
While Yahoo profits dropped 12 percent in 2007, Yahoo president Sue Decker's annual bonus got a 29 percent bump, from $850,000 to $1.1 million. The increase, disclosed in an SEC filing, is probably due to Decker's mid-year promotion from CFO. Decker also pulled a $815,000 salary in 2008. Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan also got a raise. He earned a $225,000 bonus in 2007, up from $200,000 in 2006. Good to know the going rate for moral pygmies these days.
Is Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan trying to tell us he's bored? Having tired of turning dissidents over to the Chinese government, the lawyer has reportedly turned his attention to other prey — the sources of leaks about Yahoo's newly launched Buzz news site, a poorly made Digg clone. He recently "sent out a note saying that the person who leaked 'Buzz' had been found and dealt with," commenter Snarkotron writes. Perhaps his energies would be better spent prosecuting Buzz's engineers. John Paczkowski of AllThingsD tells me that Buzz is failing in its most basic purpose: Accepting a link for discussion and voting. "I posted a story 90 minutes ago, and readers are telling me they can't buzz it up," he writes. Paczkowski's story is unflattering to Yahoo. I'd speculate that Yahoo is filtering out unwelcome news on Buzz, but that would imply far too much organization and competence.
This morning, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made the usual polite noises about "integrating" Yahoo's management into Microsoft. The reality? Come on. They're all fired, except for the geeks. If Microsoft had any respect for current management, they would have negotiated a friendly deal instead of launching a takeover. Most of the executive suite will be gone, I bet, within six months if the takeover succeeds. Here are the details on who's in and who's out, starting at the top.
Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's second day on Capitol Hill was less pleasant than his first — and no birthday candles this time, either. Gao Qinsheng, mother of imprisoned journalist Shi Tao, and Yu Lin, wife of jailed dissident Wang Xiaoning, railed against Yahoo for helping China's government silence their family members. This after Yang and Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan apologized before Congress on Tuesday. Word is the two execs also met privately with the relatives to apologize and discuss out how much Yahoo will have to pay to settle a civil suit filed by the two women. (Photo by drs2biz)
Bad enough that Michael Callahan, Yahoo's top lawyer, and Jerry Yang, the company's CEO and cofounder were raked over the coals today by a House committee for the company's role in the imprisonment of Chinese journalist Shi Tao. But Yang suffered the additional indignity of getting the Congressional tongue-lashing on his 39th birthday. Happy birthday, Jerry! Turning 40's going to look easy by comparison.
The House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee voted Tuesday to pass a law that would fine U.S. companies $2 million if they're caught helping foreign governments spy on their citizens. That means you, Google, New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith told Forbes. "Google has joined hook, line and sinker with the propaganda regime of Beijing," Smith said. Smith is also the guy dragging Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan back to Congress over the case of Shi Tao, a Chinese newspaper reporter and editor, who was arrested in his home after anonymously blowing the whistle on a government crackdown on media and democracy. Look, guys, we told you that calling Smith's website a "dirty linkwhore" was a bad idea. (Photo by phauly)
Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang's second hundred days could, conceivably, be worse than the first. He and general counsel Michael Callahan are going to Congress to answer to accusations that Callahan lied under oath about Yahoo's role in Chinese censorship. Sounds like even more fun than getting hammered by Wall Street analysts in a conference call, right? Here's why Yahoo's top brass is set to feel new pain over this old case.