The race to become Yahoo Inc’s next chief executive appears to have come down to two candidates: current interim chief executive officer Ross Levinsohn and Hulu chief executive officer Jason Kilar.
According to two sources with knowledge of the situation, Levinsohn and Kilar are the last names left on the Yahoo board’s shortlist for permanent chief executive officer of the company.
Yahoo, the once iconic Internet company, has struggled to find its footing in the new digital world dominated by the likes of Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter.
The company has essentially been rudderless since rebuffing Microsoft’s US$44 billion takeover bid in 2008. Since then, Yahoo has plowed through four chief executive officers in as many years, among them Terry Semel, co-founder Jerry Yang (楊致遠), Carol Bartz, and most recently, Scott Thompson.
Yahoo’s board also had on its shortlist Jonathan Miller, currently News Corp’s chief digital officer and former chief executive officer of AOL Inc, but Miller declined to pursue discussions, a source said.
According to this source, Miller put the brakes on any talks with Yahoo’s board out of respect for his friendship with Levinsohn, who has long wanted to run a company as chief executive officer. Prior to their current positions, Miller and Levinsohn ran an investment firm together named Fuse Capital.
However, Kilar has no such personal relationship with Levinsohn, which is why he is still on the shortlist.
Executive recruiting firm Spencer Stuart is leading the search on behalf of Yahoo.
While Kilar is being seriously considered for the role, Levinsohn is still thought of as the favorite to take the position on a permanent basis, one of the sources said.
Since taking over as interim chief executive officer in May after Scott Thompson’s forced resignation, Levinsohn has been acting as if he has already won the seat, the source said.
Levinsohn hired former Google director and media veteran Michael Barrett as chief revenue officer to help lead Yahoo’s efforts to reemerge as an entertainment and information destination that wins advertising revenue.
Those close to Levinsohn have said he is committed to building Yahoo’s own video programming and striking more syndication deals in pursuit of ads that command a higher price and Barrett’s hiring underscores that strategy.