In a major restructuring at Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), CFO Sue Decker - who's proven to be one of the most competent executives at the media company -- has ascended to a position that leaves her pretty close to overseeing all of Yahoo. It could be a prelude to her becoming chief executive. If that were to happen, I think she could definitely help bring the much-needed cohesiveness to the organization.
Moreover, she's got guts. If I recall correctly, she was the first person at Yahoo to publicly admit that Yahoo's search was losing market share to Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). No other executive admitted that until after she did.
Having followed Yahoo for years, it was noticeable to me and most observers, I'm certain, that Decker could articulate Yahoo's vision and finances better than any executive on conference calls, even CEO Terry Semel. In fact, there were many times on those analysts' conference calls when Semel would send the tough questions over to her. She's pretty clear and direct for a top executive, most of whom dodge questions.
She doesn't leave you scratching your head, and saying, "Huh?" That's typically my response to Semel or Dan Rosensweig's non-answers on those conference calls.
Decker also has a solid track record. She is widely credited with leading Yahoo's charge into search, which today accounts for half the company's revenues. Prior to taking a role at Yahoo in 2000, Decker was global director of equity research at DLJ.
Now, it's unclear whether Decker is the right person to save this seemingly sinking ship. And, no one will ever know, unless she takes over. But it's my bet she'll do as good of a job, if not better, than the Semel. That's because you can't just blame the senior executives for failing to weave together all of Yahoo's disparate parts. A lot of that lack of vision has to come from the very top.
Yahoo's restructuring is fine -- definitely a much-needed move. But it's hardly done. I think it's done when Terry Semel leaves, personally.