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The History of Yahoo's CEOs

As we reported earlier, Scott Thompson has stepped down been ousted as CEO of Yahoo!. The reason was, as you may already be aware, a mixup flub of facts on his resume.
There have been six CEOs in the history of Yahoo! (plus a short interim-stint by Tim Morse that barely counted) and we thought that it would be appropriate to give you a quick reminder of those who came before current interim CEO Ross Levinsohn.
In 18 years as a company, having six CEOs isn’t the norm, and when you dig into some of the personalities that have held the position, you have to wonder what exactly is going on over there in purple land.
Here’s a quick summary of CEO highlights and lowlights. Ok, just the latter. Honestly, you couldn’t pay me enough to take this job.

March 1995 to March 7th, 2001 – Tim Koogle

timkoogle A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)Serving as the first CEO of Yahoo! is an impressive title to hold. Koogle came into the position with 20 years of business under his belt, having spent time at Motorola. While he served a nice chunk of time as the top dog, he went through his share of drama. Remember that time when he was sued by Holocaust survivors for “justifying the Holocaust by allowing the sale of Nazi memorabilia on Yahoo’s auction site”? Yikes.

April 17th, 2001 to June 18th 2007 – Terry Semel

terrysemel A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)Terry Semel took over from the only CEO that Yahoo! ever knew, and it was a changing of the guard that was very necessary in the eyes of the board and shareholders. He spent nearly 25 years at Warner Bros. and came in battle tested. Semel got to lead the company during some trying times, specifically surrounding personal data sharing with authorities in China. Remember when he took heat for sharing information with police that led to the arrest of a blogger? In retrospect, Semel said:
We continue to be pissed off and are sorry about it.
Ugh. Oh, and it’s also rumored that Semel completely flubbed a potential purchase of Google. Facebook too.
In 2007, Yahoo’s board told its shareholders that Semel was doing a wonderful job. One week later he was ousted.

June 18th, 2007 to November 17th, 2008 – Jerry Yang

jerryyang A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)When Jerry Yang was brought in, many thought that Yahoo! would be able to turn around its previous misfortunes. Since Yang was one of its co-founders, surely he could come in and right the ship. I mean, Yahoo’s original name was “Jerry and Dave’s Guide to the World Wide Web” so surely he had some more tricks up his sleeve, right? Wrong. Yahoo’s stock tanked under Yang and he turned down Microsoft’s acquisition offers multiple times.
Here’s what Yang said after Microsoft’s offer of over $44B:
The global online advertising market is projected to grow from $45 billion in 2007 to $75 billion in 2010. And we are moving quickly to take advantage of what we see as a unique window of time in the growth—and evolution—of this market.
Yeah, not “quickly” enough apparently.
When he stepped down as CEO, he kept his previous title of “Chief Yahoo!” (what a horrible title), but eventually left the company completely.

January 13th, 2009 to September 6th, 2011 – Carol Bartz

carolbartz 520x378 A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)Oh, Carol Bartz. What can I say about her that you don’t already know? A polarizing figure, coming off of being the CEO of Autodesk, came in to “kick some butt”. If “kick some butt” meant “record number of layoffs”, then Bartz definitely kicked some butt.
Instead of selling the company to Microsoft, Bartz helped strike a search deal with Microsoft that helped to kickstart Bing. But let’s be serious, Bartz was interesting because she cursed like a drunken sailor.
Remember when she told Michael Arrington (then at TechCrunch) to “fuck off”? Just in case you didn’t, here’s the video:
Oh, and Bartz was fired over the phone. Here’s her “goodbye” email to Yahoo! employees, sent from her iPad:
To all,
I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.
Sent from my iPad

January 2012 to May 13th, 2012 – Scott Thompson

scottthompson A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)This was a hire that really led people to believe that Yahoo! meant business about turning around its previous misfortunes. Scott Thompson served as President at PayPal and ran its online payment division and came in with encouraging quotes like:
Clearly, speed is important but we will attack both the opportunity ahead and the competitive challenges with an appropriate balance of urgency and thoughtfulness. I cannot wait to get started.
Get started he did and get started he didn’t even get a chance to do. The only real work that Thompson got to partake in were the layoffs of roughly 14% of its workforce, or about 2,000 people. Here’s what Thompson had to say about them:
Change is never easy. But the time has come to move Yahoo! forward aggressively with increased focus and accountability. Our values have always been about treating all Yahoos with dignity and respect, and today is a day to embrace those values.
If you ask me, Yahoo! makes change look really easy.
After five months as CEO, his educational background came into question. You see, Thompson’s bio mentioned a computer science degree from Stone Hill College. Only problem is, when Thompson attended Stone Hill College there was no computer science degree offered. Oops.

May 13th 2012 to Present – Ross Levinsohn (Interim)

RossLevinsohn 520x617 A look at Yahoos CEOs from 1995 to 2012 (all six of them)Immediately after giving Scott Thompson the boot, the company named Ross Levinsohn as interim CEO. Previously, Levinsohn held the “EVP of “Americas” at Yahoo!” post. Prior to that, he was President at Fox Interactive, the Internet arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
His crowning achievement at Fox Interactive? Leading the charge to buy Myspace for over $500M.
Oh boy, this can’t turn out well.