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After Yang’s reign, what’s in store for Yahoo

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Jeremy Hobson: For years, Yahoo — one of the most popular websites on the internet — has lacked a clear focus. Is it a search engine? A news aggregator? An email service? Well, the news that co-founder Jerry Yang is severing ties with the company after 17 years may help clarify the future of Yahoo.

Marketplace’s Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: Jerry Yang helped create Yahoo in a trailer when he was a student at Stanford University in 1994. As he leaves the board, the company is struggling to stay relevant. The search pioneer has been passed by Google and others but still draws millions of users a day.

It’s on its fourth CEO in five years. This month Yahoo hired its latest chief executive, former PayPal president Scott Thompson, who was brought in to make big changes.

Tim Bajarin is president of Creative Strategies, a consulting firm. He says the timing is no coincidence.

Tim Bajarin: I think Thompson basically — and the board — is saying we need a clean hand to do whatever we need to do to save the company, and I think that’s why they made the break.

Yang also faced pressure from shareholders. As co-creator, analysts say Yang resisted change. Many were unhappy when he nixed a deal four years ago to sell Yahoo to Microsoft for more than $40 billion.

Anlaysts say a new deal could be in the works. Yahoo is negotiating to sell off valuable investments in Asia and several buyout firms have expressed interest in taking a stake in the company.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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