Yahoo on defensive at shareholder meeting

Yahoo was criticised by some shareholders on Friday for the way it handled Microsoft's attempted acquisition, but in the end there were fewer fireworks at its annual meeting of stockholders than some had expected.

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"I think that might be denigrating to the pygmies," he said, getting a laugh from the 200 or so stockholders here. "I believe you are moral, but the only morality you believe in is profit and self-interest."

Yahoo's board recommended that shareholders vote against the human rights proposals, which were also submitted at last year's meeting and voted down by a wide margin. Executives here said the company already has adequate policies in place to protect human rights.

Bostock briefly talked about the activist investor Carl Icahn, who had been trying to replace Yahoo's entire board but has now reached a deal that makes him one of its directors.

"Carl is a smart guy," Bostock said. "He is, as some would say, a good guy despite the bad things written about him. ... We look forward to him being a productive member of the board."

Yahoo President Sue Decker also spoke here. She said Yahoo is testing a new platform that will make it easier for advertisers to buy advertisements across all of Yahoo's properties. It will launch later this quarter, she said.

CEO Jerry Yang reiterated the company's growth strategy, which is based on creating better "starting points" for Internet users to begin their web experiences, as well as expanding through mobile advertising and emerging markets.

In the key vote of the day, on the proposal to re-elect Yang and the rest of Yahoo's current board, the company's management prevailed. Bostock garnered 79.5 percent of the company’s shares in his favour – a marked improvement on last year – while Yang received 85.4 percent.

The two proposals relating to human rights were voted down, as was another proposal to tie executive pay closely to Yahoo’s financial performance. A statement from Yahoo did not give the percentages for those votes.

Thomas Hillesland, a private investor and retired engineer from San Ramon, California, said he takes a longer-term view of the Microsoft deal than some other investors who seek quick profits. He said he doesn't like a lot of big mergers because the acquired company disappears.

"You have to think about what's going to be good for the company in the longer term. Microsoft has swallowed a lot of companies, but I'm not sure their products are better," he said.

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