Note: Full audio of the call can be downloaded from the link below.
The analysts/investors’ call is underway and Terry Semel is framing that answer as a personal decision as much as a personnel decision, that this is all part of executive succession planning and that it was his choice to leave earlier than originally planned. Sounds a bit like a proud papa putting the reins of the company in the hands of people he helped mold as leaders.
Yang sounds verklempt as he talks about Semel’s role as his partner for the past six years (as Semel noted, it was Yang who convinced him to join Yahoo) — “I’ve learned how to become a better leader from him.”
Now it’s Decker’s turn to laud Semel and to talk up Yang. “To a lot of the people … Jerry represents the heart and soul of the company.” She talks of fostering a “truly winning culture.”
Back to Yang, who is explaining why all will be well: As advertising dollars move online … We believe Yahoo will continue to be a beneficiary. … We spotted the Web 2.0 trend early.
— We must intensify our focus on differentiating our product.
— Competition for our talent is … fierce. I will be intensely focused on motivating, developing and tracking talent across the company.
Decker is explaining now why the reorganization started later last year was the right move:
— It’s made it easier to make tough decisions — examples: choosing Flockr over Yahoo Photo; closing the U.S. auction business.
— We’ve become more integrated.
— We’ve become more competitive.
Now for the drum roll — she’s undoing a large chunk of the re-org, removing the management layer that she just moved up from, collapsing audience and advertising into her role as president. (I only wish I could see Dan Rosensweig’s face now.) She is suspending the months-long search for an audience head and will not put anyone between her and the advertising. She calls this an “integrated operating team.”
(This might be a good time to mention the comment I heard on CNBC just before the call began — “sometimes, you need fresh blood.” Yes, co-founder Yang and seven-year vet Decker are perceived by some as a major change rather than a continuation. )
Succession: Semel said he started to see himself more as a coach than a player going forward, that he and the board felt more and more that staying with internal succession would word — Jerry and Sue together as a team. … More about continuity.
You can stream the audio below, or the full audio of the conference call can be downloaded here (21 MB, 47 minutes).