Exclusive: Yahoo Hires Heidrick & Struggles for CEO Search

Published on October 13, 2011
by Kara Swisher

According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo has hired Heidrick & Struggles for its CEO search.

It will be a dicey job, since the effort is on a separate track than the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s wide-ranging strategic review, which is looking at a range of options including the sale of the company.

That’s why many see the move as window-dressing for Yahoo’s board, rather than any real interest in hiring a new leader.

Sources said that will make the search a difficult one for Yahoo, since any CEO candidate would be coming into a very volatile situation. In addition, Yahoo has been struggling — Struggles, struggling, get it? — to recharge its advertising and search business and also its product innovation cycle.

That’s the reason — among several others — that the board of Yahoo suddenly fired its former CEO Carol Bartz last month.

Heidrick has worked for Yahoo previously, in the now ill-conceived placement of Bartz by partner John Thompson. A different partner will be handling this assignment, sources said.

The pool of possible CEOs to lead Yahoo is not a large one, but could includes execs such as Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson, Chegg CEO Dan Rosensweig, Skype CEO Tony Bates, John Pleasants of Disney’s Playdom, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and any number of top Google execs, as well as Yahoo board member and Akamai President David Kenny.

(I am, of course, waiting by the phone for the call.)

A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to comment.

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