Yahoo bites the CEO bullet

The internet pioneer pulls the plug on Scott Thompson's brief tenure but finding a replacement with the necessary vision won't be easy.

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Yahoo boss Scott Thompson bites the bullet

The fudged resume saga at Yahoo has finally claimed the scalp of CEO Scott Thompson in what is an ignoble end for him and another black mark on the ailing internet pioneer’s reputation. Thompson was ostensibly brought in to clean things up at the ailing internet giant but spent the last weeks of his brief tenure trying to clear his name.

After the acrimonious split with former CEO Carol Bartz, the Scott Thompson CV debacle is another nail in the coffin of the internet pioneer which many say has entered a so-called ‘death spiral’.

It all started when activist hedge fund investor Third Point demanded Thompson’s head on the platter after doubts emerged about the veracity of his educational record. Yahoo's SEC filings said that Thompson has a bachelor's degree in computer science when his degree was really in accounting. While the board called it an "inadvertent error" most investors thought otherwise and given the messthe board has presided over the lack of foresight and due diligence here is astonishing.

Thompson, who started in January, promised to make Yahoo a nimbler beast and his first move was to lay off 14 per cent of its workforce. Cutting jobs offered savings $US375 million annually but while that has steadied the ship there is still no clear strategy as to how the company intends to start extricating itself from the revenue hole. Whether Thompson had an answer to that question is now a moot point given his spectacular fall from grace but it is an issue that is critical to Yahoo’s continued existence.

The one big winner out of this whole fracas is Third Point CEO Daniel Loeb, who can now officially raise the victory flag after waging a relentless war against Yahoo’s board. The demise of Thompson’s tenure along with the departure of Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock and board member Patti Hart are three big scalps for Loeb, who now has a seat at Yahoo’s board table. His first task will no doubt involve finding a new CEO for Yahoo and he should be more than aware that the time for words is now over, it’s time for action.

For the time being the crown rests on the head of Yahoo’s global media head, Ross Levinsohn. Levinsohn is the interim CEO and it’s unlikely that he will get the gig permanently.

The timing of Thompson CV debacle couldn’t have been more poignant given that a 28-year Mark Zuckerberg is about to take his $US96 billion baby public. The IPO road show may have had its hiccups and there is a legion of bears waiting for the social network to fall flat, but the fact is that when it comes to selling a vision Yahoo could learn a thing or two here from the social network.

High Noon for Optus TV Now

Moving closer to home, Optus has decided to take the TV Now fight to the High Court – and it hasn’t taken long for AFL boss Andrew Demetriou to voice his distaste for the telco.

Demetriou called the Optus a "disgusting organisation" which has acted "reprehensibly" and said the appeal was just plain "stupid". It would seem that Demetriou was particularly incensed by Optus boss Paul O’Sullivan’s comments that the "law was on our side.”

Truth be told, it’s hard to make any claims about who the law is with in this case. Optus had a good early run in the Federal Court only to be pegged back by the full bench after Telstra and the sporting codes appealed the initial decision. The High Court will be last line of appeal and just what the outcome will be is anyone’s guess.

Telstra's Foxtel appointment

Meanwhile, Telstra has appointed Robert Nason as the new chairman of Foxtel, succeeding retiring chairman Bruce Akhurst. Nason, currently Telstra's group managing director of business service and improvement, will take over from Akhurst on June 1. As part of the shuffle, Telstra's group managing director for innovation, products and marketing Kate McKenzie, will also be appointed to the Foxtel board.Given all the conjecture about Telstra’s desire to take a bigger stake in the pay TV operator, Nason’s previous experience in Tabcorp’s race wagering and media businesses, including Sky Channel and Sydney radio station 2KY, should come in handy if and when the ACCC comes calling.

Steve Wozniak's price check

Steve Wozniak is in Australia and the Apple co-founder and is making headline even before his speaking tour gets underway. Wozniak has stepped into the contentious price gouging debate, reportedly telling ABC Radio that Australian consumers shouldn’t be fleeced by the tech giants.

Now it would seem that Wozniak was quite surprised to find out just how much things cost in Australia – and we are not just talking about technology. He made a reference to higher import taxes and the fact that shipping costs were not even an issue for companies. All of this makes for great headlines but the reality is that the problem won’t be solved by a single inquiry and a real change will require the government asking far too many uncomfortable questions.

Wrapping up

In international news, Samsung Electronics has bought US-based cloud-based content service provider mSpot. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but Samsung has reportedly paid close to $US9 million for the streaming startup. Founded in 2004, mSpot provides a cloud-based music and video delivery platform for mobile devices on major US mobile carriers. It also has its own brand services available in the Android Marketplace or App Store. Meanwhile, Google is reportedly in talks to buy social media player Meebo for $US100 million. Meebo started life in 2005 and was at one time valued at round $US250 million.

In local news, Fujitsu has unveiled a $60 million upgrade to its Melbourne data centre. The upgrade focused on security, connectivity and availability enhancements to provide its customers with increased access to secure hosting services. The Noble Park facility, which was purpose-built for Fujitsu in 1988, is a 6,700m building on 18,600m of land. Following this latest significant upgrade to Tier III standards, the design incorporates four main data halls suitable for cabinet and cage installations. 

Meanwhile, QlikTech has expanded its Australian business with senior appointments and the opening of an office in Canberra. QlikTech has appointed Stuart Rees as enterprise account director while Peter Daniell joins as public sector sales manager and will lead QlikTech’s new Canberra office. QlikTech was recently ranked third on Forbes’ annual list of the 25 Fastest-Growing Tech Companies. The company has also appointed Doug Goethal as enterprise solution architect, while Rod Stewart has been appointed as solution architect, based in the new Canberra office. Ida Montagne has been appointed as partner sales manager, based in Melbourne and responsible for QlikTech’s partner business in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

Elsewhere, data centre and telecommunications provider, Pacnet, has started the second phase of expansion at its Sydney CloudSpace1 (SYCS1) data centre to meet the growing demand for data centre services in Australia. The centre was first launched in February 2011 and this second phase of expansion will add up to 700 racks and 3 MW of power to the facility when completed, complementing the capacity from four other data centres that Pacnet operates in Australia.