Is ex-Warner Bros. co-chairman Terry Semel on his way out as current Yahoo! chairman/CEO? Business Week thinks so, But I hear from his showbiz pals that Semel is acting like no one and nothing will dislodge him at least through the summer. It helps that he invested $17 million of his money in Yahoo! when he took the gig. But the mag says Yahoo!’s 11% decline in profits announced yesterday threatens Semel’s job (despite the expansion of the search engine’s eBay partnership and the new so-called Panama search advertising software) and analysts are openly openly speculating whether Semel will be out the door sooner rather than later. On the other hand, Semel’s departure from Yahoo! has been tipped almost from the moment he arrived there in May 2001. One reason? His mogul style was so radically different from the plebian atmosphere Yahoo! fostered. A Business 2.0 article from 2002 made me chortle because Yahoo! naifs were so traumatized by Semel’s showbiz mannerisms. How shortly after he took over a rumor began to circulate that a Yahoo employee had addressed Semel by his first name — standard practice in Silicon Valley — and that Semel had snapped back, “It’s Mr. Semel.” How he had an un-Yahoo practice of using a chauffeur. How he’d tried to simulate his gargantuan Warner Bros. executive suite by merging his office with an adjoining private conference room and equipping it with a plasma TV. How his aloof, rigid, cautious and bureaucratic style has demoralized key personnel accustomed to Yahoo!’s entrepreneurial and exuberant culture. How he doesn’t fraternize in the hallways. How his employees’ main exposure to him is listening in on the Wall Street analyst calls that Yahoo! broadcasts. Yeah, Hollywood moguls are a breed apart.
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