Jerry Yang and the myth of the founderIt is one of the most heartwarming narratives of Silicon Valley — the founder is abused and evicted by the suits and then returns triumphant. But that's not how it worked out for Jerry Yang, ousted as Yahoo's CEO Monday by a suddenly restive board. Until yesterday, Yang was never much abused by Yahoo's suits; if anything, he was coddled for more than a decade, granted the honorific of "Chief Yahoo" and allowed a say in the Internet portal's strategy. He held a seat on the company's board, and played a role in courting executives like former CEO Terry Semel; but until last year, he never had to operate a business.Experience is underrated in Silicon Valley. Novices are thought to do better than old hands. But the truth is that the intensity of actually running a startup — raising money, hiring people, assembling desks by hand — is better training than that provided by most business schools. Looked at that way, Yang gave up way too early, hiring a professional CEO when the company only had five employees. A graduate-school dropout, Yang had no management experience, and no predilection for the task. He is still, to this day, famously indecisive and fatally nice. Steve Jobs has rarely spoken about the heartbreaking experience of being cast out of Apple, the company he cofounded. In June 2005, though, he gave a commencement speech at Stanford University and openly discussed it. "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me," he said. "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life." Yang's exit, like his entrance, is far too soft. He will remain CEO until the board finds a replacement; he will remain Chief Yahoo after that. Such kid-gloves treatment does him no favors. For his own good, Yahoo should exile Yang, as Apple did with Jobs, and give him a chance, at last, to prove himself. His golf score may suffer; his nights may prove sleepless. But they say tough economic times are when the best companies are born. Perhaps he'll correct the mistakes he made at Yahoo with his next company. And maybe — if there's still a Yahoo left to welcome him back, if it hasn't been swallowed up by Microsoft or News Corp. or AT&T — he'll return to his first company a conquering hero. And prove that Silicon Valley's tale of the prodigal founder isn't so mythical.