Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Annual Meeting Countdown (4 Days to Go!): Who Will Be the New Board Members?

Well, it will not be nearly as interesting as it would have been had activist shareholder Carl Icahn been attacking in a full-throttle proxy fight.

But Yahoo’s annual meeting on Friday will be more of a humdinger than usual (and BoomTown is all signed up to go and waiting for confirmation, after agreeing to a long fascist list of no-you-can’ts from Yahoo PR).

So many moving parts, including who, who, who will Yahoo (YHOO) and Icahn decide on for the two other board members to join besides Icahn (pictured here)?

Actually, I mostly want to know who gets to sit next to Icahn at the first board meeting. I vote Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang!

But I digress, let’s hazard a guess, shall we, of who the newbies will be?

The Icahn slate includes: Lucian A. Bebchuk, Frank J. Biondi, Jr., John H. Chapple, Mark Cuban, Adam Dell, Keith A. Meister, Edward H. Meyer, and Brian S. Posner, as well as the late addition of former AOL (TWX) head Jon Miller.

Yahoo must consent to Icahn’s choices and don’t actually have to seat the new members until August 15. Sources said it is interviewing all the candidates right now.

Miller is obviously a shoo-in, given that Yang suggested him to Icahn. Icahn harbors hopes of Miller taking over from Yang (he has talked to a lot of folks about that, in fact!), so getting Miller on board is step one.

But Yang will surely deny everyone the exquisite pleasure by picking Cuban (pictured here), the former Broadcast.com honcho who got rich via a Yahoo acquisition in Web 1.0, never looked back and never ever said “Thanks!”

You can guess longtime Icahn cronies Biondi and Meister are unlikely, given that it would be like having Carl times two (although I am not completely ruling out the more media-experienced Biondi).

Meyer certainly has the advertising chops as former chairman and CEO of Grey Global, but he might be considered too old-school for Yahoo.

Investor Adam “Brother of Michael” Dell seems more of a long shot, although he is certainly not objectionable to Yahoo. But if the company is looking for experience in Yahoo’s businesses going forward, Yahoo might not consider Dell the strongest of the group.

Same for mutual fund star Posner. An obvious brainiac, but just knowing how to make money on Wall Street does not really make him an ideal person to be on the board of an Internet company.

Now, Bebchuk is indeed intriguing, given his Harvard law professor/shareholder activist background and his pay-for-performance clarion cry. But Yang and some other current board members, who have recently been dinged by some proxy-advisory services for too much compensation compared with their record, might not like having Bebchuk so close by.

Thus, overall, from good-fit perspective, I like another former exec, John Chapple (pictured here) of Nextel best of all because mobile will be increasingly important to Yahoo in Web 3.0 (frankly, it better be, as Web 2.0 has not been too kind to Yahoo).

Via Sprint (S), Chapple knows from big mergers and he knows how to makes deals. He has been the operator of a digital company, unlike many of the others. And he is also an entrepreneur, which is a plus.

But whoever from the Icahn group gets the nod, one thing is certain: If they’re looking for friends on the old Yahoo board, they might want to get a dog instead.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work