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TheStreet Open House

CEOs Who Will Get Fired in 2013

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- I use "will" in the title of this article out of optimism, out of hope that companies in various sectors will wake up and create some Yahoo! (YHOO)-like excitement.

Look what happened over there. The company showed some pluck, hiring a young, pregnant, first-time CEO.

Since Marissa Mayer came aboard, Yahoo!'s stock is up roughly 25%.

Investors love it when boards make bold moves. After about a half dozen really bad moves, Yahoo's board triggered optimism. For as pessimistic as we can be, investors love reasons to be optimistic. We look for them.

If Mayer doesn't come through, her stock will lose momentum faster than the NHL lockout talks, but that's part of the excitement of going for broke in a risky and fresh, yet competent, way.

That's what we need at the following companies. More than firings. We need thoughtful reorganizations, which may or may not include outright dismissals of the current CEOs.

Netflix (NFLX) and Zynga (ZNGA).

I cluster Netflix and Zynga because the respective CEOs, Reed Hastings and Mark Pincus, have so much in common.

I initiated this line of thinking in "Netflix Happens When a CEO Has Too Much Power."

The smartest move Zynga ever made post-implosion was putting Pincus out there a little bit. For instance, the company recently permitted The Wall Street Journal to print an as-close-as-it-gets-with-these-guys, behind-the-scenes look at the CEO's emotional response to his company's problems.

Zynga needs to take several more steps. Continue to humanize Pincus. Change his image from egomaniacal enigma to the likable guy he probably is.

Netflix hardly seems inclined to take step one in this direction with Hastings. But it's imperative.

Lots of folks have a negative image of Hastings. That's a problem he helped create by running such a tight ship from a public relations standpoint. When he screwed up last year, Netflix did a YouTube video that backfired. You'll never convince me that the response was not an almost, if not completely unilateral decision by Hastings.

Netflix needs to take a similar approach to Hastings as Zynga is taking with Pincus. Zynga's smart. It's humanizing its polarizing CEO in a conscious and genuine effort.

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