Kara Swisher

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Bring in the Suits: Yahoo Hiring Strategic Advisers to Plot Next Moves

Yahoo is preparing to hire investment bankers and other strategic advisory firms, said sources close to the Silicon Valley Internet giant, as it seeks to figure out what to do next at the company.

The board of Yahoo, which ousted its CEO Carol Bartz today in a unanimous decision, is exploring a range of possible strategies to turn around its moribund growth, including possible acquisitions, shedding units, bringing in new investment partners and even taking the company private or selling it.

A sale is the least likely of options, said sources close to the situation, but — given today’s news — Yahoo might attract a lot of attention from investors seeking to take advantage of the company’s powerful but troubled assets.

“It is all on the table,” said one source close to the company.

Independent board member David Kenny, president of Akamai, is heading the strategic options committee in charge of managing the process, sources said.

No adviser has been selected yet, but sources said Yahoo is likely to hire Allen & Co., which advises many tech and media firms. It is currently advising AOL, for example.

Other candidates would likely be the typical panoply of choices, including big investment banks like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, and smaller boutique firms such as Qatalyst Group and Code Advisors.

Sources said whoever is hired will be charged first with doing an extensive review of the company that is more intensive than has been done before.

“There is a potential for enormous growth that the company has not been capitalizing on and should,” said another source. “The board needs to get this company on a trajectory for growth.”

Indeed, it does, as it has not under the leadership of Bartz. Revenue growth has stalled and product innovation has lagged.

The company will also be conducting a search for a CEO, which will be difficult because any new top exec will want to be part of such a companywide review.

Yahoo’s choice of an executive search firm has also not been determined, but is likely to be one of the big companies that specialize in the arena.

One thing is certain, said multiple sources: Yahoo will continue to focus itself as what it has previously called a “premier digital media company.”

What that means now, of course, will be determined in the months ahead.

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle