America's Worst Directors: Roy Bostock of Yahoo!

Douglas A. McIntyre

Roy J. Bostock has made more mistakes than any media company chairman in recent memory. His latest misstep was to fire CEO Carol Bartz over the phone, and forgetting to block her ability to e-mail all the employees at Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO). Bostock’s choice to fire Bartz over the phone was an act of cowardice and one that allowed Bartz to immediately manage the public relations of the event.

Bostock has been Yahoo!’s chairman since January 2008 and a board member since May 2003. That means he was on the board when Terry Semel was pushed out as CEO for non-performance in 2007 and when Jerry Yang was fired for the same reason in November of 2008.

Bostock was chairman when Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) made its $31 bid for the portal company in February 2008, and was a member of the board which rejected that deal. It was the best chance Yahoo! ever had to maximize shareholder value. Yahoo! closed at $12.91 today, although it rose about 6% after hours. Bostock and the board have no succession plan which was demonstrated by the announcement that Timothy Morse was named interim CEO. Bostock and the board should have waited to find a replacement as CEO so there could have been a seamless transition.

Bostock commented after he fired Bartz that “The Board sees enormous growth opportunities on which Yahoo! can capitalize, and our primary objective is to leverage the Company’s leadership and current business assets and platforms to execute against these opportunities.” That certainly hasn’t happened on his watch.

The board should have pushed out Bostock with Bartz. It would have been an acknowledgement that he has been a failure as a board member and as chairman.

Douglas A. McIntyre