A fire drill couldn't clean out Yahoo's executive suites sooner

When Robert Bostock, Jerry Yang, and Susan Decker assert next August that they're a better team to lead their company than the one Carl Icahn is building instead, one question shareholders may ask by that time is, "What company?"

It is a staggering array of individuals -- many of them employees since the company's founding, some of them top acquisitions over the past few years -- who are now exiting Yahoo almost in lockstep, in advance of a tumultuous shareholder meeting scheduled for August 1. As of this afternoon, Yahoo declined to confirm with BetaNews even the exit of individuals whose names were already plastered all over The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as the entire matter of employee exits is now apparently off limits to its public relations.

Yahoo President Susan Decker is expected to announce early next week a major shuffling of its corporate deck chairs, and whether she can actually fill some of those chairs by that time is actually doubtful. For now, there may be just enough room here to list the people who, in just the last few weeks, have either tendered their resignation, signaled that they intend to resign, or are widely believed to be resigning based on press reports from more trusted sources:

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  • Chris Bolte - currently the company's Senior Vice President of Search Marketing, believed to be following his superior Vish Makhijani out the door, according to Valleywag.
  • Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake - the married founders of the Flickr photo sharing service that remains in good condition. Writing on his and his wife's behalf in a resignation letter to Brad Garlinghouse last week, Butterfield crafted a series of mysterious, humorous, and most likely deep-inside references to the goings-on at the company, including this: "After the war, as we continued to branch out in electronics, all manner of aeronautical frames, hulls and bodies, computing and tabulating machines, precision controls, and later, farther afield -- real estate, brewing, consumer finance, grain processing, lighting and salty snacks -- I took it in stride, for there was still a place for me."
  • Brad Garlinghouse - currently Senior Vice President for Communications and Communities. The Yahoo Mail service, which is believed to be due for another upgrade once the ymail.com and rocketmail.com domains are fully active, was Garlinghouse's key project. He also gained appreciation in November 2006, at the height of the Terry Semel era, for having circulated what's still called "The Peanut Butter Manifesto" among company employees, which crafted a poetic metaphor likening Yahoo's ability to mask over its problems to spreading peanut butter over inedible parts of a meal.
  • Dr. Qi Lu - former Executive Vice President for Yahoo's Search and Advertising unit. Hired from IBM's prestigious Almaden Research Center in 1998, Dr. Lu was the principal architect of Panama (now known commercially as AMP), the company's latest generation search engine and the one jewel in the crown that Microsoft was most recently interested in purchasing for itself. His exit was announced this morning by the Times, though Yahoo has not confirmed it to BetaNews.
  • Vish Makhijani - former Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Yahoo Search division. A key executive in one of the Web's first great search engines, Inktomi, he was the person who headed the marketing effort for search, and who helped build a brand around AMP. The Times cites unnamed sources as saying Makhijani will be joining Russian search engine Yandex.
  • Jeff Weiner - former Executive Vice President for Yahoo's network division, a long-time employee. During the Terry Semel era, Weiner was considered a kind of "keeper of the flame" of the company's old guard; and after Semel's departure, Weiner was viewed as a hero and a champion of Yahoo's founding principles.
  • Jeremy Zawodny - a kind of unofficial company executive, actually its former lead technical evangelist. Last week, Zawodny announced on his personal blog that he was leaving Yahoo; and yesterday, he announced he would be joining Craigslist.

Next: Carmi Levy on the real motivation behind abandoning ship...

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