Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Dear Yahoo Board: C'mon, Get On With It (A CEO by Tomorrow Would Be Good)

BoomTown’s got nothing, which is not something I like to say very much.

I am talking about the Yahoo CEO search, which is either being done by the Internet giant’s board in such elegant secrecy and with such amazing stealth that it is getting by everyone.

That or it’s business as usual for the Yahoo (YHOO) board, which so far has never met a challenge for the company it could not drag out painfully and with great public dithering.

I am hoping, of course, it is the former–that my crack sleuthing skills have been frozen solid here in Buffalo–and the choice will be announced to great fanfare by year’s end (which is, er, tomorrow).

But from reporting I have done over the last several days, the latter seems to be the case and Yahoo might not have a new leader in place for a few weeks at least.

Still, I vote for tomorrow!

But, if I had to make a prediction, Yahoo will pick an external candidate among the several candidates it is vetting now, given the time this has taken and also the need to show Wall Street, investors, their employees and the rest of us it intends to change.

In any case, if Yahoo cannot land someone by the end of January, many sources I spoke to expect the board to pick one of its own–most likely, former Nextel head John Chapple, a new director.

I have also heard that longtime Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) exec, Vyomesh (VJ) Joshi, who runs its massive imaging and printing group, is also a possibility, as well as others on the board.

When Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang announced he was stepping down in mid-November, sources I spoke to said the board was ready to act with urgency and boldness to get a leader in place to drag the company out of the doldrums.

It even made a little list, as I wrote in a post:

The board, though, has apparently made a list of six–I have no idea why that is the number chosen–clear criteria for the new leader of Yahoo.

The first is that the candidate have ‘extensive’ experience as the CEO of a public company. Another calls for media and advertising expertise. And mergers and acquisitions experience. Also strategic skills.”

While sources inside and outside the company say several candidates were considered and contacted, thus far there is no clear front-runner, as some–such as News Corp. (NWS) COO Peter Chernin and former Vodafone (VOD) CEO Arun Sarin–have discounted their interest so far. (News Corp. is the owner of this Web site.)

One response to my progress of the Yahoo CEO search from an insider was typical: “Not a peep. Oddly quiet.”

A major reason for the lack of swiftness might be Yang, who is very involved in the search along with Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock (who might think twice about parking his chauffeured car with his name splashed on it somewhere else than in front of Yahoo, for all the emails I get about sightings of it).

Many sources said Yang is intent on getting the CEO choice just right, given so many other missteps made under his management.

“This is his last act and he is really serious about not making a bad choice,” said one exec who has talked to Yang.

That kind of consideration takes time, of course, even though many think that a bit of decisive speed might be a good thing to see from Yahoo right about now.

Still, with the holidays, as well as the weak economy, Yahoo is no Shangri-La for potential candidates.

In addition, Yahoo will wrap up a quarter this week that is sure to be especially weak, given all the internal and external turmoil.

“It is a very tough job and anyone worthwhile has to think long and hard before taking it,” said one person who has been contacted by Yahoo’s headhunter, Heidrick & Struggles, about interest in the No. 2 job at Yahoo, once a CEO is found.

This concept being bandied about is to put a new top team in place to replace Yang, and possibly President Sue Decker, who is the leading internal candidate for CEO.

Interestingly, a COO/President choice is perhaps the more interesting choice for Yahoo, since the field of candidates here widens considerably and has a lot more digital experience.

But first, of course, the CEO needs to be picked, and that’s still to come, delaying everything from doing a deal with Microsoft (MSFT) over search to buying Time Warner (TWX) online unit AOL, all of which are being pushed into 2009.

Well, only the Yahoo board knows for sure who that will be, although I am still digging away like a rabid gopher to find out more.

But here is a great music video of Val Emmich singing “(C’mon), Get On With It,” to spur the Yahoo board on:


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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo