Who's going to reinvent Yahoo?

The characteristics, and the short list

Technology trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
November 18, 2008 | Comments (7)
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/54c

 Yahoo is in need of a great CEO who can re-brand the beleaguered company. No longer should the words "peanut butter" come to mind when people refer to this Internet pioneer. Rather, the new CEO needs to unify Yahoo's disparate parts and present a consistent message.

Yahoo needs someone like a Louis Gerstner, the man who reshaped and rescued IBM, making it relevant again, at a time many believed it was beyond repair.

I'm sure Heidrick & Struggles, the executive search firm hired to find the new executive, has a job description and profile for this new CEO. But here are just a few other suggestions to add to their list. 

-    Must be able to deal with vexatious shareholders

-    Must be able to write company memos in lower case letters

-    Must be able to handle a peanut butter knife

-    Must be able to act Hollywood, only in Silicon Valley

-    Must be available to fly to Redmond, daily

-    Must be able to say "YES" to Steve Ballmer

While the search firm searches, the blogosphere is abuzz about who should be the next CEO of Yahoo. 

 AllThingsD's Kara Swisher reports that Peter Chernin is the No. 1 choice of those "inside and outside Yahoo." She points out, "Chernin has the right resume: Experienced at running large and complex organizations; savvier than most in media about the Internet; able to make the kind of dramatic decisions needed; and, perhaps best of all, signaling–via the Los Angeles Times–just this past week that he was open to leaving the powerful media and entertainment conglomerate for something new."

Others noted as potential candidates are:

Sue Decker: As President of Yahoo, she's an obvious contender. But as President of Yahoo, she's not very popular, given her long tenure there. She's practically home-grown stock. Some say she's partly to blame for the mismanagement of the business.

Dan Rosensweig: Yahoo's former COO, who is now at media invesment company, Quadrangle.

At Silicon Alley Insider, the following folks have been raised as potential candidates. 

Max Levchin: Founder and CEO of Slide. He definitely has shown competence building a popular media company.

Tim Armstrong: Advertising executive at Google. 

Ellen Siminoff: An early employee at Yahoo, who founded Efficient Frontier, a search engine marketing company. She's since left that gig. She knows online marketing, and is extremely sharp.

Kevin Ryan: Former CEO of DoubleClick.  

Meg Whitman: Former CEO of eBay. It's doubtful she'll take the job, given that she's likely dreaming of a world in politics.

Ross Levinsohn: Former head of Fox Interactive Media. He's currently a partner at Velocity Group. He'd definitely take on something as challenging as turning around Yahoo.



Rich Reader
Rich Reader, on November 18, 2008

If anyone can turn Yahoo around, it would have to be Leo Hindery, Jr., former CEO of AT&T Broadband. I was with Leo when he bailed out of the hopelessly misled Chronicle Company in 1987, and helped him to startup InterMedia Partners, the tenth largest cable tv multisystem operator in its' day. Leo is a real turn-around god. The media industry, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and Wall Street all know him and believe in him. Now that he's done with his part in Obama's election campaign, he's available. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Hindery

Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler, on November 18, 2008

As long as it is is not Sue Decker (http://tinyurl.com/6gwxh4) I will be happy!

Mike Wescott, on November 18, 2008

Yahoo!'s problem the last few years is not having a clear vision. They wanted to gain ground in search, but they also wanted to be a full-fledged media company. They've made significant headway with engineering-driven open source initiatives like YUI, yet they've held onto too many non-technical middle managers. Yahoo! needs to follow the motto "Feed the winners, starve the losers". The YDN "Open Strategy" is a winner, and it should be fed. Current/former media moguls are generally inept at feeding these kinds of things, because they don't understand them. Yahoo! needs to focus on finding an exec with a strong engineering background who is able to make well-informed decisions.

Jay Peek, on November 18, 2008

They had great TV advertisers. Man were they smart.
I wish I could say the same for their web-presence.

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on November 18, 2008

I did love the talking dolphin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmSG8DAPF8w

Bambi Francisco Roizen, on November 18, 2008

Mike: That's a harsh motto, but it makes sense. But I don't think Yahoo's CEO needs to have a strong engineering background. Jerry Yang is an engineer. What Yahoo needs is someone with a strong business-savvy sense and a big vision about how to unify Yahoo's disparate parts. Also, a turnaround is as much about the No. 2 guy involved. So, Yahoo needs a strong team - as well as a strong leader. I forgot to mention Jerry York - who helped Gerstner at IBM. Here's a great line - "He did the heavy lifting, while Gerstner learned the business." http://www.infoworld.com/articles/hn/xml/02/01/29/020129hnpalmisano.html

Mike Wescott, on November 18, 2008

Well, the team needs to have an understanding of their own engineering efforts, so they don't kill off the wrong projects. Either Jerry didn't appreciate some of the efforts, or he was getting bad info from his underlings. I believe someone with an eng background would have a better perspective on running an engineering-driven company. Of course, the other half of the formula that I mentioned, making well-informed decisions, requires business savvy.

Gary Silver
Gary Silver, on November 19, 2008

Every company could use a Gerstner. Although he was an outsider, he knew how to listen to customers, ask the right questions, and make decisions. Fixing Yahoo is not an engineer's job, it requires understanding customer needs.

Peter Almberg
Peter Almberg, on November 22, 2008

It would be interesting to see Clear Channel approach Yahoo!
The timing would be great for Yahoo! to take steps into the more physical world. Lets see. A new CEO should have experience from how to deal with banks, angry shareholders and has to show respect to new shareholders equity. A "down to earth" approach helps and the CEO has to put own money at risk. Who? I have no clue. Maybe it will be taken over without a CEO.

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