by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) July 12, 2012
Yahoo! shareholders on Thursday endorsed the struggling Internet firm's overhauled board of directors and called for a fresh plan to compete against rivals such as Google and Facebook.
Voting at the California company's annual gathering of stockholders took only minutes, with the 11 members of the Yahoo! board approved along with a set of proposals that included compensation for top executives.
Eight of the directors have been on the board for less than six months and were added as the result of a battle with activist investor Daniel Loeb, who won seats for himself and selected allies.
There was no announcement about a new chief executive despite intense speculation that interim CEO Ross Levinsohn would be tapped for the job.
"The past year has been one of significant change among the leadership of the company," Levinsohn told shareholders at the gathering in a hotel near the company's headquarters in the city of Sunnyvale.
"We have made meaningful progress to move Yahoo! forward."
The progress included partnerships with major television and radio companies as well as online music service Spotify, said Levinsohn.
Yahoo! boss Scott Thompson was ousted less than two months ago in the face of controversy about an inflated resume, resulting in a truce in a proxy war with shareholder Loeb.
"In the last five to 10 years, we have missed some serious opportunities to monetize online properties including search and that has disappointed shareholders," a stockholder told Levinsohn during the meeting.
Levinsohn repeated the vision of becoming a "premier digital media company" that capitalizes on its audience of approximately 700 million monthly visitors through advertising on content ranging from finance to celebrity gossip.
"A strategy based on becoming the world's biggest tabloid is not sustainable," complained a shareholder during a question-and-answer session with executives.
"You are behind the ball, and you've been behind the ball regardless of which CEO show up," he continued. "As a consumer I have given up on this company."
Levinsohn countered that the strategy of combining high-quality content from partners with Yahoo! generated programming -- the company launched its own White House bureau for US election coverage -- shows promise.
"I am enthusiastic about what we can achieve," Levinsohn said. "We are working hard to expand the content and programming we offer our users on every screen and the ability of advertisers to reach the users they covet."
Yahoo! told shareholders that they would be the beneficiaries of at least $4 billion the company expects to receive later this year as a result of a deal to sell a chunk of its stake in Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba.
Satellite-based Internet technologies
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