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Semel logs onto Yahoo! boom. (Catching Up With ...).

In 1999, Terry Semel jolted Hollywood when he closed the book on Warner Bros. after 24 years--joining the ranks of the uber-wealthy unemployed. Two years later, another shocker: He took the top job at Internet company Yahoo!.

Could one of Hollywood's last moguls trade in Tinseltown for the tech biz--and make a go of it?

He did. And lately, Semel and Yahoo! are getting nearly as much press as Harry Potter.

In a sign that he's truly arrived, Semel's photo--styled in black attire with glasses and salt-and-pepper coif--graced the cover of the latest Business Week. Inside: a paean to Semel and "Yahoo! Act Two." That's the Wall Street equivalent of Semel's handprints in cement at Mann's Chinese Theater.

And it's because, as other Netcos melted, Yahoo! survived and thrived. Profits are rising, and its stock price has more than tripled in a year. Semel, who wanted to own a piece of his new venture, bought 1 million shares when he signed on, at $17 each. They're now worth about $30 apiece.

"Terry and Bob were not technologists," says an industry insider, referring to Semel's co-studio head Bob Daly who left at the same time. (Now Semel pals about with Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang.)

"There were lots of people who said, 'He doesn't know beans about running this business.' I've got to hand it to him," recalls another exec.

Ironically, Daly and Semel's exit was viewed as the end of an era, as freewheeling studio chiefs made way for corporate bean counters devoted to the bottom line.

But that was never true, says a former Time Warner exec. "They had huge contracts, huge pay. But (beside that) they ran a very tight ship at Warner."

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Title Annotation:Terry Semel joins Yahoo!
Author:Goldsmith, Jill
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 2, 2003
Words:284
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