Does Yahoo Have the Right Leadership to Thrive?

Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

For a struggling company like Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), having the right leadership in place is one of the keys to its turnaround.  While new CEO Marissa Mayer is a key leader in this effort, she isn’t alone.  An often overlooked set of leaders at a company are those sitting on its Board of Directors. 

Yahoo’s Board now consists of 11 members.  Investors need to think about whether those serving bring the right skill sets to the board to lead this turnaround effort.  By just considering the brief bios of each member, you can gain insight as to whether the board at least has the skills and experience to get the job done at Yahoo. 

As you can see from these brief bios, each member brings a different perspective to the company’s Board:

Alfred Amoroso – Chairman of the Board and member since February 2012.  Mr. Amoroso is an executive advisor to the senior management team of Rovi Corporation.  He previously served as the CEO of the company as well as being a former board member.

John Hayes – is the Chief Marketing Officer of American Express.  He’s the Chairman of Yahoo’s Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee as well as a member of the Transitions and Strategic Planning Committee. 

Sue James – has been a board member since January 2010.  She is the Chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee as well as serving as a member of the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee.  She spent the more than 30 years with Ernst Young LLP and was lead partner or partner-in-charge of audit work for several technology firms including Intel, and HP

Peter Liguori – is the former COO of Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA).  He is currently a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance and Transactions and Strategic Planning Committees.  Prior to joining Discovery, Mr. Liguori held several positions at the Fox Broadcasting Company and HBO.

Daniel Loeb – is the founder and CEO of Third Point LLC, an investment management firm.  He’s served on Yahoo’s board since May of 2012 and is a member of the Transactions and Strategic Planning Committee. 

Marissa Mayer – has been the CEO, President and a Director at Yahoo since July of 2012.  Prior to this she was the Vice President of Local, Maps and Location Services at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).   

Thomas McInerney – is the former CFO of IAC/InterActiveCorp.  He’s a member of the Audit and Finance Committee and the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. 

Maynard Webb – has been a member of the board since February 2012.  He’s formerly the COO of eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY).  Currently he’s the Chairman of the Board at LiveOps where he previously served as CEO.  Mr. Webb is currently the Chairman of the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee as well as serving as a member of the Audit and Finance Committee.

Harry Wilson – has been a member of the board since May of 2012.  He’s currently the Chairman and CEO of MAEVA Group which is a turnaround and restructuring boutique that he founded.  He serves as Chairman of the Transactions and Strategic Planning Committee as well as serving on the Compensation and Leadership Development Committee.

Michael Wolf – has been a member of the board since May of 2012.  He is the CEO of Activate Strategy which is a technology consulting firm specializing in media, technology and entertainment.  Previously he was the COO of MTV Networks.  He is a member of the Compensation and Leadership Development and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committees. 

In addition to these ten members, Yahoo recently continued its effort to remake itself, by adding Max Levchin, a co-founder of PayPal, to its board.  Additionally, two other directors, Brad Smith, the chief executive of Intuit, and David W. Kenny, chief executive of the Weather Channel, recently stepped down.  Mr. Levchin was PayPal's CTO before forming Slide, a Web applications company that was sold to Google two years ago.

While we don’t know the inside dealing at the board meetings, we can draw some interesting insights about its members.  The tech savvy board has some solid eBay connections with its former COO as well as the co-founder of its PayPal subsidiary.  Further, the Google connection doesn’t stop at CEO Marissa Mayer, as new board member Max Levchin was the CTO of a company that was recently sold to big G.  What’s important is that these three board members have senior leadership experience at two top web based tech giants.  That experience provides valuable strategic leadership to the company.

The board’s strength isn’t just in its consumer facing tech background.  Several board members have experience with content creators.  Both Peter Liguori’s experience at Discovery Communications and Fox as well as Michael Wolf’s work for MTV gives Yahoo insight on how great content is both created and delivered to consumers.  Not only that, but their experience gives the company additional insights into how best to monetize its content.

Looking deeper, you’ll notice that the board has an activist investor as well as a turnaround expert.  Both add weight to the company’s turnaround efforts.  Both serve on the company’s Transaction’s and Strategic Planning Committee, which is tasked to “assist the Board in its oversight responsibilities with respect to the Company's business strategy,  to review, assess, advise and approve Transactions involving commitments falling within certain dollar parameters established by the Board from time to time...” as well as other related duties.  In a nutshell, this committee is responsible for overseeing Yahoo’s strategy and reviewing transactions.  From their backgrounds it would appear that the four members of this committee bring a wealth of related experience which should serve the company well.

A final thought for a company in a financial transition is that the board has a former tech CFO and a top tech auditor on board.  Both again have broad knowledge and experience in the space, which should give investors comfort knowing that the financials will be sound. 

While no corporate board will ever be perfect, Yahoo does appear to have a very strong board.  It’s a board filled with experienced senior leaders who have a track record of success.  While that alone doesn’t necessarily make Yahoo a buy, it certainly is a step in the right direction for the company's turnaround efforts.   

latimerburned has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend eBay and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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