Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang is leaving the struggling internet company as it tries to revive its revenue growth and win over disgruntled shareholders under a new leader.
The surprise departure comes just two weeks after Yahoo hired former PayPal executive Scott Thompson as its chief executive.
Mr Yang, 43, endorsed Mr Thompson in his resignation from Yahoo's board of directors. He had been on Yahoo's board since the company's 1995 inception.
"My time at Yahoo, from its founding to the present, has encompassed some of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life," Mr Yang wrote in a letter to Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock. "However, the time has come for me to pursue other interests outside of Yahoo."
The letter did not say what Mr Yang plans to do next. He does not need to work, thanks to the fortune he has amassed since he began working on Yahoo in a trailer at Stanford University with fellow graduate student David Filo. Mr Yang is worth about 1.1 billion US dollars (£718 million), according to Forbes magazine's latest estimates. He still owns a 3.6% stake in the company.
He is also stepping down from the boards of China's Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo is negotiating to sell its stakes in both of the Asian companies as part of its efforts to placate investors. The deal could be worth as much as 17 billion dollars (£11 billion), but still faces a series of potentially daunting obstacles before it gets done.
Besides surrendering the board seats, Mr Yang is giving up his position as "Chief Yahoo", an honorary title he held as he mingled among workers, while keeping tabs on various company projects.
Although a popular figure among Yahoo employees, Mr Yang had alienated the company's shareholders by turning down a chance to sell Yahoo in its entirety to Microsoft for 47.5 billion dollars (£31 billion), or 33 dollars per share, in May 2008. Yahoo shares have not topped 20 dollars for more than three years. The stock gained 49 cents to 15.92 dollars in extended trading after Mr Yang's decision was announced.
Yahoo's revenue has been falling in recent years even as advertisers have poured more money into the internet. Much of the money, though, has been going to internet search leader Google and Facebook's online social network, as Yahoo has fallen further behind in the race to innovate and develop products that attract web traffic. Despite its struggles, Yahoo remains profitable and still boasts a worldwide audience of 700 million people.
© 2012 Press Association