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The Economist has a thoughtful piece on why it’s time for Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang to exit stage left—on his own. While none of us will ever be sure if the collapse of the Microsoft-Yahoo deal was entirely Yang’s fault, or if both sides were involved—the article refuses to cast blame—it points out that Yang still hasn’t offered a clear alternative to the Microsoft takeover.

“[Yang] went back to his friends at Google, who obliged by offering an advertising alliance that might have given Yahoo! some extra cashflow to tide it over a restructuring,” the report said. “The drawback was that the deal would have had Google, already the dominant power in search advertising, placing its ads next to Yahoo!’s searches in America. Trustbusters were suspicious, even when Google offered to make concessions. That is why Google, thinking of its long-term antitrust strategy, abandoned the deal on November 5th, shortly before Mr Yang took to the stage.”

Now what? Yang seems to be a very nice guy who deserves tremendous credit for launching an Internet empire. But even today, he still maintains that Yahoo’s strategy is to be a “starting point” for half a billion web surfers—which is something that’s increasingly occurring on mobile devices as well. “But how is that different from the old ‘portal’ idea which stopped working long ago, or the search box that Google in effect controls?” the article asked. The clock is running down…