Yahoo CEO accused of dumping shares

September 8, 2009 // 3:13 p.m.

Tags: #carol-bartz #jerry-yang #tax #yahoo #yahoo-management #yahoo-search #yahoo-shares

Yahoo's investors are concerned over news that CEO Carol Bartz has sold almost $2 million (£1.22 million) of her stock in the company in the nine months she has worked there - and are beginning to question her loyalty to the company.

As reported by The Guardian, Bartz - who was previously in charge of CAD specialist AutoDesk, and who left semi-retirement to take the $1 million a year post at Yahoo after co-founder Jerry Yang left - was given options on five million Yahoo shares when she started as an incentive to lead the company well.

Sadly, rather than have faith in the future of Yahoo under her leadership - and rely on both the seven-figure salary and $4 million annual bonus that the CEO role is eligible for - Bartz chose to sell the stock, making a $830,000 sale in March and a larger sale of $1.14m in June.

While stockholders are, of course, welcome to do as they wish with their shares, many in the company - investors and employees alike - consider the move to be extremely harmful to morale. With other top executives at the company following her lead - with general counsel Mike Callahan having sold $1.35 million stock options so far this year - people are becoming concerned that the current leadership at the company doesn't have faith that the current troubles faced by Yahoo can be overcome.

Yahoo investor Eric Jackson, of Ironfire Capital, has stated that "two million already cashed out for Bartz is too much, too soon" and that the move "doesn't really fit with her 'I didn't need this job as I was retired' image."

A statement from Yahoo defending Bartz's stock sales claims that the move in no way represents a lack of faith on her part, instead claiming "that they [the shares] were re-acquired to satisfy tax withholdings."

As the investors squabble over this latest move by management, Yahoo continues to shrink: with its search business flagging despite interest from Microsoft, overall revenue for the last three months was reported as being down 13 percent year-on-year - although somehow the company managed a slight rise in profits over the same period. How long the company can keep getting smaller in a market dominated by Google remains to be seen.

Do you believe the story that the stock sales were simply to get a tax break, or should Yahoo's management have more faith in the company they're paid to lead? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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