Sue Decker’s Super Powers

June 26, 2008

decker.jpgYahoo’s not-so-secret reorganization got its official nod today, with three new divisions created to centralize operations and report to Sue Decker.
    
Jerry Yang still stars as Chief Executive in the company’s statement, giving his blessing to moves he said will accelerate Yahoo’s ability to make money off the web.
    
Decker herself told us that the new organizational structure reflects absolutely no change to her status or power within the organization: “I am responsible for the business and Ari (CTO Ari Balogh) is responsible for the technology and engineering.”

Wall Street, however, thinks Sue may be too modest in her self-assessment. We spoke to several analysts who stressed her rise to prominence and the long-held assumption (at least since last June, when Yang took over from Terry Semel) that Decker was still being groomed for CEO-dom.
    
Here’s what some of them said:

Jeffrey Lindsay of Sanford C. Bernstein:
“It begs the question, what is Jerry Yang doing? … It looks like there has been a significant shift in power towards Ms. Decker. Clearly if there are three new groups reporting to her that would suggest to us that she’s taking a larger role in operations.”
   
“It’s hard to see what significant difference it’s going to make. Certainly previous reorganizations haven’t achieved a great deal. Reorganizations at most large Internet companies don’t seem to achieve very much, so we’re not terribly optimistic.”
    
Colin Gillis of Canaccord Adams:
“Either way that’s not the change that certain investors were seeking …We certainly see Sue taking an increasingly active role in the company and Jerry probably likes his Chief Yahoo title after what’s been a very grueling year.”
 
“Our take is that this reorganization is driven by Sue. Sue’s got to have a little bit of time here. If this reorganization can get pulled off without disrupting the business momentum (i.e. Yahoo doesn’t miss expectations or lower forecasts) … then points to her for that and that would be a success.”

What remains to be seen is whether investors will still rally to Decker even in the event Yang steps aside, or will her role in keeping Microsoft at bay be hard forgotten by shareholders who were hungry for a deal?

(Photo of Decker: Reuters)

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