In the annals of missed opportunities by tech CEOs, Yahoo Chief Terry Semel has a doozy. In an interview with The New Yorker writer Ken Auletta as part of a Newhouse School lecture series, Semel was asked what his dumbest decision was after taking the job at the Net media company in 2001.
Shortly after joining Yahoo, Semel said, company founders Jerry Yang and David Filo suggested he look at buying up-and-comer Google, whose Stanford grad founders looked up Yahoo's inventors. So Semel said he had dinner with Larry Page and Sergey Brin, asking them what their business was with Yahoo paying only $7 million annually as its biggest licensor of Google search technology.
"They had no thought process on the subject," Semel said in the conversation, which was posted online Thursday at the New Yorker Web site. So Semel nevertheless asked to buy Google. They replied that they wanted $1 billion and didn't want to sell. Semel said he'd think about the price. After mulling it over, at another dinner meeting Semel agreed to the asking price of $1 billion but was again rebuffed by Larry and Sergey who stated that they now wanted $3 billion, and still did not want to sell. Semel balked at the $2 billion dollar increase, and the rest is history.
News source: CNET News
News source: TheNewYorker.com Video of interview