Yahoo’s Grumpy Shareholders

Yahoo’s shareholders made clear their “discontent” and “disappointment” with Yahoo’s performance at the company’s annual meeting. The first rebuke that caught my eye concerned a proposal “to adopt a policy that opposes censorship on the Internet,” which only 15% of shareholders approved. That fared better than the proposal for a “committee to oversee Yahoo’s human rights practices,” favored by 4% of shareholders. While I was tempted to write a headline along the lines of “Yahoo to Chinese Political Dissidents: Kiss Off!”, I’m guessing these votes reflect disenchantment with Yahoo’s 10% decline in stock price over the last year more than a pro-political repression platform. After being approved by 97% or more of shareholders last year some of the directors received as few as 66% of the votes at this year’s meeting. According to The Wall Street Journal “approvals with only two-thirds of the vote could be considered a victory for shareholder activists who have condemned high executive pay at the company,” specifically Yahoo CEO Terry Semel’s $71.7 million 2006 compensation. Still, shareholders also rejected a pay-for-performance proposal that would have bestowed bonuses only when Yahoo outperformed its industry peers.

The shareholders also rejected the chicken a la king and chocolate cake served at lunch. A bad day for the board, all around.

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