Yahoo CEO short list, gets shorter

Bambi Francisco Roizen · December 5, 2008 · Short URL:

The search for a bold, new leader and turn-around artist continues...

 It's been 2-1/2 weeks since Jerry Yang stepped down from his CEO post at Yahoo. 

Since then, the blogosphere has been busy reporting, evaluating, predicting and basically throwing in their 2 cents as to whom should be at the helm of this beleaguered Internet pioneer.

Apparently, Yahoo board Chairman Roy Bostock is getting impatient. (I don't blame him). He wants Yahoo to conclude its CEO search by the end of the year, according to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher.

Additionally, the CEO must fill the following qualifications: Extensive experience as the CEO of a public company. Media expertise. Advertising expertise. M&A expertise. Strategic skills.

Bostock clearly didn't heed my suggested qualifications: 

-    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  

But the who's who of the short list of candidates seem to be shrinking. 

For one, you can rule out News Corp COO Peter Chernin, who is reportedly in contract renewal negotiations at News Corp.

Swisher noted that "It looks like Yahoo has almost no chance to nab a top candidate, News Corp. (NWS) COO Peter Chernin. While Yang made nice and Bostock quickly lobbed in a call to get the well-known exec to come in and talk, several sources said Chernin declined even that."



Here's a list of folks that we can rule out, if we keep to Bostock's criteria:

Since Bostock's qualifications requires an experienced CEO of a public company, then other candidates suggested across the blogosphere, like Google executive Tim Armstrong, won't meet the requirements. Armstrong runs Google's North American and Latin American Sales and Operations. Nonetheless, he's an ad sales guy. Can he turn around a company?

In keeping with the must-have-CEO-of-public-company experience, Yahoo's Sue Decker will also be off the short list.

Having joined Yahoo as CFO in 2000, she clearly has media and advertising experience at an Internet company. And, clearly, as CFO, she's done a lot of the math for the many acquisitions Yahoo has made. But even though she's been doing the calculations, she may not be considered a "strategic" thinker. 



Jeff Jordan, OpenTable CEO and a former eBay exec, would also be off the list, since he's not been a CEO of a public company. He was, however, CFO of Hollywood Entertainment, when it was public. And, he has extensive M&A experience, after having been involved with the PayPal and acquisitions at eBay. No matter, he's not interested. He's told his investors "he does not want to be in the running and was sticking with the start-up’s IPO plans (when the market returns)."


Former AOL CEO Jon Miller, who is Sanford Bernstein Jeff Lindsay's ideal Yahoo CEO candidate, has a non-compete agreement with Time Warner until the end of March. So, this may be a deal-breaker should Yahoo really want him. But Miller seems determined to have some affiliation with Yahoo, even if it means raising billions to buy it. 



Dan Rosensweig is former COO of Yahoo. He doesn't have CEO experience. He also has a nice gig at private investment firm, Quadrangle. But he "has been hungry to get back into the game, and is surely charismatic enough, and gutsy enough to make the hard decisions on the company. He will take the job if offered, for sure," according to And, he does meet the criteria to have media and advertising expertise and strategic skills.


Former Microsoft President of Platforms and Services Division, Kevin Johnson, has been talked about as a possible candidate. Johnson has M&A experience, if you consider that he played a key role in Microsoft’s botched attempt to acquire Yahoo. 

Johnson left Microsoft to become CEO of Juniper Networks. He does have CEO experience, so maybe that's enough to make him a consideration now. But he may not have the expertise in media and advertising that Yahoo needs.



(Image sources: Mediawiredaily; AllThingsD; AdWeek, Broadcasting Cable, en.epochtimes; blog.wired)



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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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