The mass exodus of Yahoo! executives has reached its peak – CEO Carol Bartz has been fired by Chairman of the Board, Roy Bostock. Timothy Morse has been named interim CEO, according to a Yahoo! press release titled “Yahoo! Announces Leadership Reorganization.” Though many saw this move coming, the timing was certainly a surprise. Late Tuesday evening, Bartz sent a short note to Yahoo! employees worldwide confirming her firing:
Roy Bostock, Chairman of the Yahoo! Board, said, “The Board sees enormous growth opportunities on which Yahoo! can capitalize, and our primary objective is to leverage the Company’s leadership and current business assets and platforms to execute against these opportunities. We have talented teams and tremendous resources behind them and intend to return the Company to a path of robust growth and industry-leading innovation. We are committed to exploring and evaluating possibilities and opportunities that will put Yahoo! on a trajectory for growth and innovation and deliver value to shareholders.”
Bostock continued, “On behalf of the entire Board, I want to thank Carol for her service to Yahoo! during a critical time of transition in the Company’s history, and against a very challenging macro-economic backdrop. I would also like to express the Board’s appreciation to Tim and thank him for accepting this important role. We have great confidence in his abilities and in those of the other executives who have been named to the Executive Leadership Council.”
(The internal memo sent from Jerry Yang and the Board to Yahoo! employees moments after the announcement can be read in its entirety here.)
The troubles at Yahoo! have been well-documented over the last five years, and the tune did not change under the tenure of Bartz. The revelation by Bartz that her firing was executed over the phone is symbolic of the disastrous corporate messaging and human resource mismanagement that has characterized the company of late. The company has endured one of the greatest brain drains in history, which has only accelerated its downward slide in recent years. The psychological impact of Bartz’s departure – both on investors and employees – will be intriguing to note in the coming days and weeks. Early reactions from the market are favorable – Yahoo! shares are up 5.7 percent in after-hours trading on the news.
It has been speculated that Yahoo! has been actively searching for a replacement for months. Will Yahoo! bring in another outsider or will it promote from within? There is a powerful argument to be made that the high-profile executive exodus over the last two years has left Yahoo! with no alternative but to bring in another outsider to attempt another turnaround.
Read more from the always insightful Kara Swisher at AllThingsD here.
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Less than 24 hours after the jarring revelation that Apple’s revered leader, Steve Jobs, would be stepping down from his post as CEO, his replacement has set the stage for the beloved company’s continued growth and success.
Tim Cook, who previously served as Apple’s COO and as interim CEO during Jobs’ previous medical leaves of absence, sent a note to all Apple employees today promising them the company they knew under Steve Jobs won’t change under his leadership.
The note, originally obtained by Ars Technica, reaffirms Jobs’ commitment in his resignation letter that Apple will continue to be a successful and innovative leader in the always-competitive tech sector:
I am looking forward to the amazing opportunity of serving as CEO of the most innovative company in the world. Joining Apple was the best decision I’ve ever made and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Apple and Steve for over 13 years. I share Steve’s optimism for Apple’s bright future.
Steve has been an incredible leader and mentor to me, as well as to the entire executive team and our amazing employees. We are really looking forward to Steve’s ongoing guidance and inspiration as our Chairman.
I want you to be confident that Apple is not going to change. I cherish and celebrate Apple’s unique principles and values. Steve built a company and culture that is unlike any other in the world and we are going to stay true to that—it is in our DNA. We are going to continue to make the best products in the world that delight our customers and make our employees incredibly proud of what they do.
I love Apple and I am looking forward to diving into my new role. All of the incredible support from the Board, the executive team and many of you has been inspiring. I am confident our best years lie ahead of us and that together we will continue to make Apple the magical place that it is.
Cook is no stranger to the tech community, often appearing alongside Steve Jobs at Apple events and giving important keynote speeches in Jobs’ absence. Cook has been a part of the Apple team since 1998, joining as Senior Vice President of Global Operations, and rising to his previously-held position of Chief Operating Officer in 2005.
Cook’s execution of supplier contract negotiations has made it virtually impossible for competing firms to deliver comparable products at a competitive price. Cook previously held executive positions at Compaq and IBM.
With Jobs remaining as Chairman, and a suite of Jobs-era products in the pipeline, Apple likely won’t even see a hiccup for the next few years. Jobs created a system of excellence and creativity and instilled these values in every Apple employee, and Tim Cook will continue to execute Apple’s mission of innovation and growth. Investors and insiders are confident in Cook’s ability to lead – Apple stock is down just 1 percent through midday trading Thursday.
Trading of Apple shares was halted late Wednesday pending the major breaking news that Steve Jobs, the company’s iconoclast leader has resigned from his long-held position as CEO. Below is the note Mr. Jobs sent to the Apple board and to the Apple community:
To the Apple Board of Directors and the Apple Community:
I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.
I hereby resign as CEO of Apple. I would like to serve, if the Board sees fit, as Chairman of the Board, director and Apple employee.
As far as my successor goes, I strongly recommend that we execute our succession plan and name Tim Cook as CEO of Apple.
I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.
I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.
After-hours trading of $AAPL resumed shortly thereafter, sending Apple shares down a relatively modest 5 percent. The move would likely have had much greater impact two years ago, as investors have recently priced Jobs’ impending departure into the stock. Business Insider’s Henry Blodget projected the announcement would have sent Apple shares tumbling 25 percent or more just two years ago.
Art Levinson, Chairman of Genentech, released a statement on behalf of Apple’s board: “Steve’s extraordinary vision and leadership saved Apple and guided it to its position as the world’s most innovative and valuable technology company.”
“Steve has made countless contributions to Apple’s success, and he has attracted and inspired Apple’s immensely creative employees and world class executive team. In his new role as Chairman of the Board, Steve will continue to serve Apple with his unique insights, creativity and inspiration.”
Following the announcement of Steve Jobs’ resignation, Apple promptly named COO Tim Cook as the new CEO. Cook led Apple in 2004 and 2009 during Jobs’ medical leave. Cook is known for his calm demeanor, astonishing work ethic and tendency to challenge subordinates with impossible-to-answer questions.
“The Board has complete confidence that Tim is the right person to be our next CEO,” added Levinson. “Tim’s 13 years of service to Apple have been marked by outstanding performance, and he has demonstrated remarkable talent and sound judgment in everything he does.”
Our thoughts are with Steve Jobs and his family, and we wish him well during these challenging times. As a small token of appreciation, we direct you toward Business Insider’s “The Life and Awesomeness of Steve Jobs.”
The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is today calling on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to withdraw its controversial plan for new top-level domains. ICANN’s plan would significantly expand Top-Level Domains, allowing companies and brands to register just about any word they want as a top-level domain (TLD.)
That means in addition to traditional TLDs like .com, .net, .org and .tv, for example, you could have domains like .techcrunch, .apple, .facebook, .hotel, .newyork, .coke, .cnn, etc.
These domains would come at an extremely high cost to publishers and advertisers, IAB says, and they will also provide the opportunity for cyber squatters to extort money from companies by registering domains in “bad faith.”
“ICANN’s potentially momentous change seems to have been made in a top-down star chamber. There appears to have been no economic impact research, no full and open stakeholder discussions, and little concern for the delicate balance of the Internet ecosystem,” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO and President, IAB.
“This could be disastrous for the media brand owners we represent and the brand owners with which they work. We hope that ICANN will reconsider both this ill-considered decision and the process by which it was reached.”
ICANN’s board members voted for the new TLD plan earlier this year, with an overwhelming majority in favor of the initiative. The vote was 13 to 1 in favor, with 2 abstaining.
Are new TLD opportunities ultimately good for businesses and consumers, or will the proposed TLD ecosystem fall prey to black hat domain traders and have the opposite of the intended effect? The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has criticized both the plan and the process by which it was implemented, saying it could cost marketers billions. ICANN refutes this claims, calling them “incorrect or problematic in several respects.”
Domains are still big business, and new TLDs open a huge market for sellers. ICANN has spoken, but will IAB’s call to action (so to speak) lead to new consideration?
Read: Why ICANN’s New Domain System Could Benefit Brands (AdAge)
CMOs are feeling increasingly comfortable diverting or devoting larger percentages of their budgets online, convinced that the benefits of online advertising are as revolutionary as promised. Brands spend tens of billions of dollars online, and they expect results.
How campaign performance is measured varies by brand or agency; some seek simple impressions, others seek clicks and conversions. One of the key selling points of online advertising is the ability to measure campaign performance against objectives in real-time. Tracking technologies record every visit and every impression, but the validity of these measurements have recently come into question. A major concern is falsely inflated impression counts, artificially inflating CPM prices for media buyers. Impressions are traditionally counted in tandem with page visits, which has proven to be a deeply flawed system of measurement.
AdXpose is changing everything.
Led by CEO Kirby Winfield, AdXpose verifies impressions by telling advertisers where their ad was placed on the page and, if below the fold, whether or not a visitor scrolled down to see the ad.
“If you’re counting every impression as viewable when only 50% are viewable, then every metric that you’re using to value your media is inefficient and inaccurate,” Winfield said. “You’re pulling in a bunch of impressions that have no chance to be viewed.”
The company also identifies the content the ad was placed next to, an important tool for CMOs demanding their ads be served beside “brand safe” content. Winfield argues the consolidation of advertising measurement data is vital if digital wants to slice into the holy grail of ad dollars, television.
“You have to go to one vendor to get viewabililty data. Another for survey data. A vendor to get audience verification. Another to get conversation data,” Winfield said. “You’re taking a buying process that is already 4-5x more difficult than buying TV and making it 4-5x more difficult to get metrics.”
comScore CEO Magid Abraham believes a pricing revolution is underway.
“Prices are going to adjust. All of the junk inventory is going to be significantly slashed,” Abraham said. “If you’re charging $.25/CPM but only 20% are visible, then the unit price is actually $1.25. We will move from a medium from where there is no scarcity to an industry where there is scarcity.”
comScore and AdXpose serve as a powerful duo at a critical juncture. As TechCrunch’s Erick Schonfeld astutely notes, “it’s not about clicks and conversions, it’s about attention.” Innovation in online advertising is at an all-time high; it’s no longer simply text and banner ads. Rich media, branded content and social solutions are transforming the industry with the aid of real-time exchanges.
Ferociously accurate data is the catalyst that can launch online advertising to the forefront of brand spending in the digital era. CMOs are demanding stronger performance, media buyers are getting smarter, auditors are more closely scrutinizing campaign performance, and this industry evolution is good for everyone. Brands get accurate, verified audience data, and publishers are able to charge premium CPMs through guaranteed, validated ad presentation.
The revolution has begun, and AdXpose is poised to create a shakeup with financial implications that will dwarf its $22 million price tag.
Earlier this year, Yahoo! made a splash with its acquisition of 12-week old media check-in app IntoNow for approximately $27 million. The tech media circles, often critical of Yahoo! in recent years, praised the move in spite of the multi-million dollar price tag and the fact that IntoNow was just 12-weeks old.
IntoNow utilizes wavelength recognition to listen to and identify television programs with the tap of a button, and has become an important tool in Yahoo!’s previously-maligned foray into social. IntoNow combines the addictive check-in elements of Foursquare and the clever utility of Shazaam with the seemingly unstoppable power of Facebook and Twitter. While this conflagration of new media stars yields hordes of adoring users and Silicon Valley praise, IntoNow is poised to tap into the well-established mega-billions of the traditional media television industry.
The Internet is transforming television, and the first-glance value of IntoNow is obvious. Anything that gets users in front of television screens, especially if paired with live event coverage a la CoverItLive, holds immense value to television networks seeing more and more eyeballs transition to the smaller screens of laptops, tablets and smartphones.
However, the multi-billion dollar potential of IntoNow and Internet-connected televisions (including Yahoo!’s ConnectedTV) lies in the value these tools can deliver to brand advertisers and CMOs desperately seeking ways to integrate campaigns across the increasing number of platforms used by consumers. The possibilities are endless:
- A consumer “checks in” to the live airing of the latest White Collar episode and receives a reward from USA Network (a badge, points, a sneak preview video, a behind-the-scenes look, etc.)
- IntoNow utilizes a Pandora-esque algorithm to provide recommendations and offers brand advertisers the ability to provide highly relevant Sponsored Recommendations based on a user’s viewing habits
- Yahoo! pairs ConnectedTV and IntoNow with its own real-time ad bidding and exchange technology to deliver contextually matched, highly targeted ads based on what a user is watching right now
- A signed-in Yahoo! user receives time-sensitive television and movie recommendations from networks, Fandango, movie studios and the many advertisers Yahoo! already has relationships with based on their explicit IntoNow viewing habits and the inferred interests derived from them
- A viewer “checks in” to American Idol and is given the option to “Like” the show’s Facebook page, read the Idols’ tweets or purchase and download a song from the night’s episode directly from iTunes
The power of IntoNow in the right hands makes Yahoo!’s purchasing price of $27 million seem like chump change, and paired with ConnectedTV and real-time ad delivery, may be the spark that ignites Yahoo!’s rebound. Matching advertisers and brands with consumers is a ceaseless quest, and IntoNow gives Yahoo! a plethora of options to deliver value to a vast range of customers while capturing the always-critical adoration of its users. Execution matters above all else, and we’ve seen dozens of hot, nimble startups fall victim to the oppressive tides within a large and entrenched public organization.