Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang is to step down as CEO of the company, a move that's been linked to his failure to strike a deal with Google and resisting Microsoft's attempts to buy the company.

Once a successor is found, Yang, who became CEO in June 2007, will take on his former title of Chief Yahoo, and will remain on the board.

Yahoo's shares closed at under $11 yesterday, nine months after Microsoft's $44bn acquisition offer valued the company at $33 per share. Yahoo rejected the initial offer, and Microsoft eventually stepped back from its attempt to buy its online competitor.

The Yahoo cofounder was seen by many as the main opponent to a deal with Microsoft, but Altimeter Group analyst Charlene Li said his departure doesn't mean a deal is now much more likely to happen. "The board was behind him and they're still there, and Yang is still there, so I don't think a Microsoft deal is imminent," she said.

Yang later talked with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp about a possible venture with MySpace, and with TimeWarner about a merger with AOL.