Looking Beyond YangTech bloggers Kara Swisher and Henry Blodget have already floated the names of some potential successors. Here's my take of the much-talked-about top candidates to take over the chief Yahoo! role:
- Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. The best outcome for Yahoo! shareholders of course would be if the new search committee never selected a CEO. This company should use this change in leadership to go back and open discussions with Microsoft about selling the company. This made sense when Microsoft made its initial offer last January at $31 a share, and it makes sense (triply so) now that Yahoo! trades around $11.
- Peter Chernin, COO of News Corp. An ideal candidate who probably wants to spread his wings without CEO Rupert Murdoch looking over his shoulder any longer. Although News Corp's (NWS) stock price has dropped precipitously over the last three months, it's still a safer bet than Yahoo!. Chernin probably would have considered moving last year, but not now.
- Jonathan Miller, former AOL CEO. Great relevant experience and well-liked by his staff and peers despite being unceremoniously dumped out of his former role heading up AOL. Miller recently set up a new venture fund called Velocity Interactive Group with Ross Levinsohn (ex-head of Fox Interactive Group). Icahn tried to draft him many times over the summer to take the top spot at Yahoo!, but Miller declined because he didn't want to turn his back on his new venture and his investors. He is also not likely to take the job, if asked.
- Ross Levinsohn. See the Miller description above. Levinsohn would be a solid choice but is unlikely to leave his current gig.
- Tim Armstrong, senior vice president at Google. The revenue head at Google (GOOG) has relevant experience and is probably ready to take a CEO role. Even though Google has struggled in this recession along with everyone else, it still has much more upside than Yahoo!. It would be tough for Armstrong to turn his back on that safety.