The Yahoo news began trickling out at 5pPST Tuesday night. Various websites reporting snippets of "news" being announced shortly at a company-wide webcast: a 20% workforce reduction; Terry Semel's resignation. The CNBC news machine immediately got into high gear.
As I strolled the streets of Los Gatos with my wife, my Blackberry started buzzing. Emails. Phone calls. No layoff, but Semel's gone. Wait! Semel isn't gone but Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig is. A major restructuring. Chief Financial Officer Sue Decker will be anointed heir apparent. How big a story is this? We need some perspective. Who do we call? What do we do? When news breaks, it can be an ugly animal: questions coming from every direction, about a gazillion different topics, all simultaneously and all of them needing answers all at once.
The typing and phone calls on the Blackberry continued through dinner. I got on the phone
with several key sources; some within Yahoo, while others know the company very well. I began piecing together the significance and perspective a story like this so desperately needs. One of my sources confirmed that Lloyd Braun would be leaving the company. He was asked to go after a bizarre series of events in recent days: the restructuring would reduce his authority and he would be asked to report Jeff Weiner, Yahoo's senior vice president in charge of Yahoo's commerce and listings businesses. This was a way to let him graciously resign since no one above him believed he would take the demotion. He apparently pondered this and came back a few days later and informed Terry Semel that he would accept the demotion. A decision that took just about everyone by surprise, I'm told that Semel was then forced to ask Braun to resign. I was also told that John Marcom, senior vice president of Yahoo's international business, was asked to leave as well.
More emails. More phone calls. Frenzied and feverish. And very cool. Then a call to CNBC's Managing Editor Tyler Mathisen at home: yes, this is a big deal. Not just big for what IS being announced, but big for what ISN'T being announced. Squawk Box is interested in heavy coverage beginning at 6aEST. Do you want me "live?" That'd make for a very long day. How do you want to play it? (Tyler is thoughtful, incisive, and gets right to the heart of the matter quickly. Much appreciated when there's so much background noise.) Sounds big, sounds like you have some perspective to offer. Yes, I'm afraid so, he says. We'll need you "live" at 6aEST. Yes folks, that'd be 3aPST!!
Phone calls to my colleagues in the Silicon Valley bureau went as you might expect: Hi, Michelle? Need you in the office by 2:15aPST. Can you call Jana? Hi, Annie? Need you in by 5aPST. Hi, Mark? How 'bout 5:30aPST. Happy campers they weren't but it would be nothing Vente double- and triple-shots from Starbucks wouldn't solve. For me? The alarm went off at 1:05 and I was in the bureau a little before 2aPST. Led the top of Squawk at 3amPST, again at 4am, again at 6am, 7am, a web debrief for cnbc.com at 8am, again at 9am, shortly again at 1pm. And all the while trying to generate new information that keeps this story moving along. UBS Internet analyst Benjamin Schachter tells me in an interview that he firmly believes that if Yahoo can't turn itself around within a year, that Microsoft could step in and buy Yahoo! Yahoo an acquisition play? Go figure!
But now, as only CNBC can do, we'll go right to the source himself and ask Terry Semel some pointed questions during the 4pEST hour of Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo. Make sure you tune in!
This story continues to develop and we continue to work the phones, not content with the company's press release as the beginning, middle and end of this story. You might think after starting your work day near 2aPST that it would make it hard to stay awake. But there's something about breaking news and the adrenaline rush you feel: you just can't stop soaking up as much information as you can get your hands on.
I'd be curious: if you work for Yahoo and want to chat, feel free to drop me a note. I'll be back soon....
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