Sharvanboskirk [Posted by Shar VanBoskirk]

**Update** Per the comments below, I’ve adjusted the title of this post to reflect that Jerry Yang is transitioning out of the CEO role, not "departing" Yahoo! overall.

This morning, Yahoo! announced that founder and CEO Jerry Yang would step aside as soon as Yahoo! found a replacement.

Some press is already finding this as further evidence of weakness in Yahoo!’s armor, but I disagree with this completely.  I actually spent the day at Yahoo!the last week of October and I came away refreshingly impressed by the ailing portal’s outlook.  I see Yang’s departure as progress: a recognition that Yahoo! has faltered of late and needs an agressive new approach to right itself and take advantage of the still growing opportunity in online advertising.  The notion of seeking new leadership embraces this aggressive approach to change and I think is an admirable thing for Yang to do in the name of the future of his company.

What impressed me during my Yahoo! visit a few weeks ago?

1) Their strategic focus.  For years I have been haranguing the vendor for acquiring too many disparate properties and not making enough fast progress toward their integration.  They announced to me two strategic priorties:  Their APT platform — an ad management tool intended to provide a single technology for publishers and advertisers to manage all of their online media transactions, and their Yahoo Open Social strategy — an entirely new way of allowing consumers to collaborate with each other, port their social profiles around the Web, create content/applications, and in general just interact how they want to with each other online…all facillitated by Yahoo!. 

To me, clear focus is always better than business meanderings.  I’ll always vote for a company that has a strong vision and has its R&D, marketing, technology all behind that vision.

2) The second appeal is that I actually buy the value of the two offerings Yahoo! has focused on.  The APT platform meets a need not currently met in the market, and Open Social at last takes advantage of Yahoo!’s acquired social media properties and connects with consumers as a relevant part of the Groundswell.

The question of the day seems to be: will Yang’s departure queue Yahoo! up to renegotiate with Microsoft?  I have been a fan of this marriage from the beginning.  But now I think Yahoo! is in a much stronger position to take advantage of a partnership with MS.  It would be much less of a "bail out" approach, and more of a strategic decision to further Yahoo!’s own vision for its two primary initiatives.