The New Yahoo CEO: Let The Speculation Games Begin

Wait, they already have. PaidContent posted a fairly comprehensive roundup yesterday of possible successors to outgoing Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang. (Yahoo is up in early trading on the news of Yang’s resignation, which was received favorably by most financial analysts.) PaidContent also poses the question: will the board go with a tech executive or a media executive? The answer is that Yahoo needs someone comfortable in both worlds.

The incoming CEO, whoever he or she is, is in a similar position as US President-elect Barack Obama — inheriting something of a mess. Yahoo has a great brand and assets but there’s less margin for error than there was before the recession kicked in and before one-too-many reorgs.

Unless the new Yahoo CEO is installed simply to sell the company to Microsoft, which is a possibility, that person will probably have less room to put his/her personal stamp on the company’s management and strategic direction. However, if top executives like Sue Decker (and others) leave in Yang’s wake that may cost Yahoo time and momentum. Then there’s the matter of the rank and file.

Yahoo employees are probably a little numb given all the reorgs and history over the past year or so. Yet the incoming CEO will need to gain their confidence and allegiance at a time when there’s a coming 10 percent reduction-in-force.

There’s also the matter of AOL and the possibility of a merger or acquisition by Yahoo. But that deal has reportedly stalled over differences regarding what AOL should cost.

Gaining the trust of Yahoo employees, putting a personal stamp on the company without initiating another reorg or major change of direction and restoring the market’s confience in Yahoo’s future are just a few of the big tasks ahead for the new Yahoo CEO, whoever that will be. That is . . . unless the company just sells to Microsoft.

Just when we thought much of the drama surrounding Yahoo (and Microsoft) had ended, here it goes again.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Features: Analysis | Microsoft & Yahoo Search Deal | Yahoo: Business Issues | Yahoo: Employees

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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