Yahoo CEO Yang disappointed Google didn't fight harder for search deal
"It has been an amazing year," said Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, taking the stage in front of about 1,000 people attending the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. That's one way to put it.
Just this morning, with the Department of Justice threatening to sue to block a proposed search advertising partnership, Google announced it was walking away rather than face a protracted legal fight.
"It's disappointing to us that Google didn't want to defend this deal," Yang told conference program chair John Battelle. Battelle interviewed Yang as part of the three-day conference, which is focused on the theme "Web meets world."
Google scuttling the search advertising partnership was just the latest setback in the tumultuous last nine months as Yang tries to save the company he founded 15 years ago. He has faced a testy takeover attempt by Microsoft and a bitter skirmish with activist investor Carl Icahn, who now sits on the Yahoo board.
And despite popular opinion on Wall Street, Yang insisted that he was and still is open to a sale to Microsoft. He also insisted that he is ...
... the right guy with the right plan to lead Yahoo, despite discontent among investors and skepticism among analysts. "I don’t regret any minute of what happened," Yang said.
And he says he is committed to running Yahoo. "I don't take my position lightly. It's a very serious obligation and responsibility. I wanted to make the change at Yahoo that I believed I could make. There has been a lot of change, a lot of people coming and leaving, but the plans we’ve tried to execute against have been done, and I'm extremely proud in the sense of rewiring Yahoo as a platform company."
As for his vision: "Yahoo is a consumer brand that allows people to do what they want on the Internet."
Is Yahoo talking to Microsoft about a deal of any kind? "No new news," Yang said. But, he said, the best thing Microsoft could do would be to buy Yahoo for "the right price."
Is Yahoo going to buy AOL? "I can’t talk about that," Yang said.
"We remain open to everything," Yang said, "but it has to make sense."
Throughout the 30-minute interview, Yahoo remained his usual affable self even as he seemed to warn those who would count him out. He says he's passionate about Yahoo and turning it around.
"I am willing to go through walls to do it," he said.
-- Jessica Guynn
Photo: Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang speaking at the Web 2.0 Summit. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press