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Yahoo Korea CEO to Resign
[February 19, 2007]

Yahoo Korea CEO to Resign

(Korea Times Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) By Cho Jin-seo

Yahoo Korea CEO Sung Nak-yang said he would resign by May, citing disagreement between him and the company's U.S. headquarters over the Korean branch's operations.

The early resignation of the aspiring 42-year-old businessman comes as he struggled to keep up Yahoo's stalling Web portal business in South Korea against local competitors Daum and Naver of NHN.

Sung said that he had notified the company of his intention in January, as he had had trouble with headquarters over budgeting and strategic planning. He is to keep the title of CEO until May, though the management control will be in the hands of an emergency executive committee.

Sung stressed that the decision was solely made by him, not by the company.

``I am stepping down of my own free will,'' he told reporters in Friday's press conference, denying allegations about being fired. ``Sales have grown by more than 25 percent per year, and the operating profit by more than 30 percent since I became CEO.''

The press meeting was hurriedly arranged after a local daily claimed that Yahoo Korea will merge with Overture, a major Web advertising company, a sister firm of Yahoo. The companies denied the report, but said they will share the sales network from now on.

During Sung's short tenure, Yahoo Korea's performances has been unimpressive.

Yahoo Korea's heyday was the late 1990s and early 2000s, when it enjoyed a dominant position in the Web portal sector. But after local portals gained power, Yahoo gradually lost its market share and finally settled in distant fourth place after Naver, Daum and Nate.

Its daily hits averaged around 4.2 million last week, according to research firm Matrix. It is a humble figure compared to Naver's 13 million and Nate's 11.3 million.

Having a short, yet shining career, Sung has been regarded as a role model for many young and aspiring management students in Korea.

A chemical engineering major in Yonsei University, Sung worked for three years at the trading department of Samsung Corp. and earned an MBA degree from the University of California, Berkeley. After returning to Korea in 1996, he was a consultant at McKinsey & Company and Accenture, and was hired by Yahoo Korea in December 2004. He served as chief operation officer for the company before getting promoted to CEO in October 2005.

Sung has allegedly had views that conflicted with Yahoo headquarters, as he wanted to acquire several tech firms in South Korea while the U.S. headquarters stuck to a tight budget.

Sung said he is unconcerned about his resignation as he already has three options for his future career, though he didn't reveal what they are.

Copyright 2007 Korea Times. Source: Financial Times Information Limited.

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