Carl Icahn, the activist investor who helped goad Yahoo into finally doing a search deal with Microsoft, has left the board of the Internet portal.
Why’s he leaving? Icahn says he has other companies to worry about, and it’s not hard to take him at face value on that. And when Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz finally signed a deal for Microsoft to handle its search operations a few months ago, his reason being a Yahoo director pretty much vanished. “Carol is doing a great job and I believe the Microsoft transaction will provide great long term benefits, the potential of which many still do not understand,” Icahn wrote in his resignation letter.
But I can just see him dusting his hands off, happy to rid himself of a misadventure that by all accounts lost him a lot of money. By threatening a proxy fight, Icahn won board seats for himself and two allies last August after Yahoo repeatedly declined Microsoft’s unsolicited, $47 billion takeover bid. But once Bartz took over as CEO in January, he went quiet.
Most of all, though, it’s apparent that Bartz had little use for him and wasn’t afraid to say so. It’s now up to Bartz, not the board, to turn things around at Yahoo. With Yahoo’s upside earnings surprise on Tuesday, she clearly has gotten started by making Yahoo more profitable. What she really needs to show, however, is how Yahoo will start growing again.