Yahoo CFO: Embrace your activist shareholders

Activist shareholders? Companies should embrace them, according to Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman, who spoke at the Future in Review conference Thursday morning about function and dysfunction on Silicon Valley boards.

“Activists have been successful, their funds are doing very well and in many cases their suggestions have added value to the company,” Goldman told his interviewer,  Computer Economics president Frank Scavo.

What else should you prioritize on a board? Goldman recommends CEOs who know how to work with a board, a good board president or director who keeps things timely and running smoothly and retaining board members with institutional knowledge of the company.

He dismissed the concept that Silicon Valley tech boards are somehow more dysfunctional than other types of companies. “We have generally skin in the game,” he said. “We’re investors, we came to the company because we want to be there.”

“I like the continuity, I like the passion of these board members. I like the fact that they have skin in the game.”

Even passion and commitment can have their downsides though. “You can tell folks that don’t have a day job because they can just pontificate forever,” Goldman remarked.