The title of Chief Yahoo takes on new meaning today. I have the great honor of stepping into the role of Yahoo!'s Chief Executive Officer. Yahoo! has an incredibly bright future and I make this move with deep conviction and enthusiasm. I've partnered closely with our executive teams for 12 years to steer our strategy and direction and today I'm ready for this challenge.
Today also marks the close of a great chapter in my life with Terry Semel as my partner. Since coming on board in 2001, Terry has given Yahoo! six of its best years. He delivered great value to our users, advertisers and shareholders. Terry refocused the company on key strategic priorities, and in so doing, helped Yahoo! increase our revenues nearly nine-fold from $717 million in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2006; boost our operating income from a loss in 2001 to nearly $1 billion last year; and create more than $30 billion in shareholder value during his tenure. He helped grow our audience from 170 million to more than 500 million users globally, and he oversaw the expansion of our base of talented employees from 3,500 to nearly 12,000.
I will always be grateful for the incredible achievements under his leadership — and for his mentorship and friendship. We'll continue to benefit from his support and guidance as he transitions to his role as our Chairman.
I also couldn't ask for a better partner in Sue Decker as our new president. In addition to knowing this company inside and out, Sue has incredible talents, leadership abilities, a fierce focus on winning, and intense dedication to this company and its people. I look forward to teaming more closely with her as we pursue our joint vision.
What is that vision? A Yahoo! that executes with speed, clarity and discipline. A Yahoo! that increases its focus on differentiating its products and investing in creativity and innovation. A Yahoo! that better monetizes its audience. A Yahoo! whose great talent is galvanized to address its challenges. And a Yahoo! that is better focused on what's important to its users, customers, and employees.
The past year has obviously not been an easy one for us. But we’ve taken important steps to address the challenges we face, and we’re starting to realize some of the benefits – especially with the successful launch of Panama, which continues to receive positive feedback from advertisers and is exceeding our expectations. By the way, that's directly attributable to the operational excellence mentality Terry has instilled and is a clear sign one of his most critical initiatives is succeeding.
We have incredible assets. This company has massive potential, drive, determination and skills, and we won't be satisfied until the external perception of Yahoo! accurately reflects that reality.
I have absolute conviction about Yahoo!'s potential for long-term success as an Internet leader. Yahoo! is a company that started with a vision and a dream and, make no mistake, that dream is very much alive. I'm committed to doing whatever it takes to transform Yahoo! into an even greater success in the future.
The time for me is right. The time is now. The Internet is still young, the opportunities ahead are tremendous, and I'm ready to rally our nearly 12,000 Yahoos around the world to help seize them.
CEO and Chief Yahoo