'Chief Yahoo' will have work cut out

Getting Yahoo back on the road to success will be no easy task for new CEO Jerry Yang, according to analyst firm Gartner.

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By  Michele Howe Published  June 20, 2007

Getting Yahoo back on the road to success will be no easy task for new CEO Jerry Yang, according to analyst firm Gartner.

While investors welcomed the news that Yahoo co-founder was taking over from Terry Semel as CEO with Yahoo stock jumping nearly 5% on the announcement, analysts say Yang will have his work cut out in putting the firm back on the right track.

"While Yang as CEO is a step in the right direction, he's not a sorcerer who can wave his wand and cure his company's problems," said Allen Weiner, managing vice president at Gartner on a blog.

"The company is a distant second to Google in search, lags in the advertising platform space and competes with a host of companies in the world of social media."

Google accounted for 49.7% of all online searches in the US in April, far ahead of Yahoo's 26.8%, according to figures from ComScore.

Google is also seen as the more innovative of the two firms, while Yahoo has been accused of adopting a ‘me too' approach.

Yahoo was, for example, behind Google in the online advertising acquisition frenzy, buying online advertising firm Right Media only after Google announced plans to purchase its rival DoubleClick.

"They are not being as forward thinking and proactive as they should have been." Scott-Kessler, an analyst at Standard & Poor's told Business Week.

One of the key tasks Yang will have as the new CEO, said Gartner, is in identifying Yahoo's core business and defining the company's identity.

"[Yang's] first order of business will be to reinstall confidence in the company on Wall Street as well as to those inside his company. A big step in that direction will be to sit down with the key division leaders, identify Yahoo's core assets and come up with the answer to the US$64,000 question: What is Yahoo?," said Weiner.

A possible partnership with Microsoft, AOL or My Space is one of the moves that could comes out of the new leadership, according to commentators.

Yahoo is rumoured to have held informal merger talks before with Microsoft.

Profile Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang

Born in Taipei, Yang was raised in the heart of the Silicon Valley after his family emigrated to San Jose, California when he was 10.

Yang earned BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University before founding Yahoo with fellow PhD student David Filo in April 1995.

Known as ‘chief Yahoo', Yang has held roles overseeing corporate strategy, technological development and international expansion at the firm before moving to his current role as CEO this month.

In addition to serving on the Yahoo board of directors, Yang also serves on the boards of Cisco Systems, Yahoo Japan and Alibaba.

He has an estimated net worth of US$2.2 billion and is ranked 432nd among the world's richest people, according to Forbes.

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