updated 10:00 pm EDT, Fri September 30, 2011
Co-founder Yang said to be acting chief
On the heels of reports that original Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang has returned to the company to take control, The Wall Street Journal reports that the board of directors for the troubled search firm has been looking at executive head-hunters to interview potential new permanent CEOs, while still looking at buyout offers, sources say. The search firms may have been asked to find executives that could help sell all or part of Yahoo, or try to turn the company around.
Yahoo, which in 2009 forced Yang out as CEO, abruptly fired his replacement Carol Bartz earlier this month over the lack of clear direction and flat revenues, though the company remains profitable despite the rise of competitors such as Google and Bing (on the search side) and Facebook (on the social side). The firm says it has an average of 700 million unique visitors per month to its various sites, including the popular Yahoo News, Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Finance aggregator pages.
Yahoo reached an agreement with Microsoft, a long-time suitor for the company, in 2009 which saw Yahoo abandon its own search-engine technology in favor of Bing in a 10-year agreement with MS, in exchange for being able to sell premium ads for both websites and a royalty on traffic sent to Bing by Yahoo for five years. Yang, who is said to be running the company now despite the naming of CFO Tim Morse as acting CEO, was opposed to any Microsoft deal and in part lost his former title because of it. If Yang remains involved in more than just a "caretaker" role, his relationship with Microsoft may come under investor scrutiny.
The first of the executive search firms will discuss options with Yahoo for candidates as early as next week. Yahoo is said to be open to an outright sale of the company or portions of itself, but is also interested in finding a new CEO that could help the company launch new "consumer services" and perhaps expand its fortunes despite strong competition. [via The Wall Street Journal]