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Exodus Of Yahoo Executives Explained

Google execs, the conventional wisdom goes, leave because they're super rich and need a new challenge. Yahoo execs (many of whom got rich earlier, during happier days) leave because things are going badly. Again, this could be turned into a plus if Yahoo gets an infusion of new talent and energy.

Since Yahoo is trading back near multi-year lows, you have executives sitting on piles of underwater stock options, which may not see air for quite some time, if ever. As much as Yahoo might like to retain these execs, companies are hesitant to do anything that smacks of opportunistic options resetting in the wake of the backdating scandal from a couple of years ago. Some companies, as a rule, wouldn't reset executive options since they were the folks that got the company into this mess. Basically, the surest way for any executive to "reset" their options is to walk away and move to another firm.

The good news: Although Yahoo can't use its low stock price to retain talent, it can use it to attract new talent, drawn to the large upside potential in a turnaround story. This is Yahoo's brightest silver lining, as it needs new blood, badly. No doubt many of the departed executives were well liked, experienced and talented, but they were the ones in charge during the slide. But will new executives feel a turnaround is possible as long as the very top (Jerry Yang and Sue Decker) remain in place?

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