Though Marissa Mayer was elected to Yahoo’s board of directors at the company’s shareholder meeting last week (June 30), investors made sure their qualms about the CEO were heard.
Of Yahoo’s director nominees, Mayer received the fewest votes for and most votes against her board seat. In all, close to 105 million votes were cast in opposition to Mayer’s election to the board, according to an SEC filing. Of course, these votes were all for show, since there were 11 director nominees for 11 board positions.
It’s not just at Yahoo where investors are questioning Mayer’s leadership. At Walmart’s shareholder meeting on April 20, Mayer, who’s a director, also received the fewest number of “for” votes and the most “against” votes.
Last week’s Yahoo election contrasts sharply to the one in 2015, when Mayer received the second-highest number of votes for Yahoo’s board. This time last year, however, an Alibaba spinoff had still seemed promising.
In early 2015, Mayer had revealed a tax-free proposal to spin off Yahoo’s stake in the Chinese e-commerce giant and return that value to shareholders, but the plan was ultimately shelved in December due to looming uncertainty over the company’s tax obligation.
In general, shareholders tend to vote with management’s recommendations, especially when things are going great. But it has been a tumultuous ride at Yahoo. With patience wearing thin, some investors were no longer content to wait for Mayer’s turnaround and instead waged public campaigns calling for her resignation. In March, activist investor Starboard Value took on a proxy battle to replace the company’s entire board of directors. Yahoo ended up conceding, giving the firm four seats.
To appease frustrated shareholders, Yahoo says it’s been exploring all possible “strategic alternatives.” Analysts believe a sale of the core business is most likely, but Mayer didn’t fuel any speculation about that at the meeting. As she took the stage, she declared: “First of all, we have no announcements today.”