Yahoo shares are almost below $20 in morning trading and as the company approaches its August 1 annual meeting, Yahoo's directors have finally begun to fear for their jobs and their reputations. They're negotiating with Yahoo's major shareholders and, along with agreeing to renew talks with Microsoft and approach AOL for acquisition, some on the board are offering to promote CEO Jerry Yang into a non-executive chairmanship and fire Yahoo president Sue Decker. Reporter's reporter Kara Swisher reports that shareholders and some board members have already come up with a wish list of names for the top jobs.
Former Fox Interactive boss Ross Levinsohn and AOL CEO Jon Miller, now partners at Velocity Interactive, seem to come as a pair. Levinsohn is best known for acquiring MySpace for Fox Interactive and quitting the company after it wouldn't buy Digg. But Levinsohn is also known for bullying entrepreneurs — once, so badly that renowned angel investor Ron Conway reportedly "flew off the handle" at him. In some quarters and in Jason Calacanis's heart, Miller gets credit turning around AOL. But like any exec, Miller has his detractors at AOL and they came out of the woodwork when he was fired last year. One described him as
An executive over 4 years that put more incompetent people in high-places (e.g., McKinley) while firing (Govern) and letting reams of talented folks (e.g., Kotay, list-o-long) leave that were passionate and—at least—somewhat competent, and were actually trying to foster some core innovation and synergy.
OpenTable’s CEO Jeff Jordan is on Yahoo shareholders and board members' wishlist, just like he was on Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's list to become COO of that company before it settled on Sheryl Sandberg. An eBay veteran, Jordan was thought to be in line for Meg Whitman's job until he took over as OpenTable's CEO in 2007. His reputation as a "product Nazi" led Valleywag to endorse him for Yahoo's top job way back in November 2006. Tim Armstrong heads up Google's ad sales force and the unit is perhaps respectably profitable enough for Yahoo shareholders and board members to include him on their list. We wonder, however, if the board knows about Armstrong's involvement with sketchy search engine spam company Associated Content. Why wouldn't Yahoo's board and shareholders want Microsoft’s Kevin Johnson for the company's top job? Ever since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced a bid to acquire the company on February 1, no one's given more thought to running Yahoo. Johnson's even written several memos on the topic — showing great ability to include exclamation marks after the company's name while still respecting the need for capital letters.
We already know enough about Yahoo's potential new CEOs to know that all of them are at once talented and flawed. But we're greedy, so tell us more?