Note: This post originally appeared in 2012 when Yahoo was in the hunt for a COO, or number two to then CEO, Marissa Mayer. Yahoo was sold to Verizon earlier this week.
Yahoo is searching far and wide for a new chief operating officer (COO), according to All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher, http://allthingsd.com/20120816/exclusive-yahoo-conducting-a-search-for-a-coo-as-no-2-to-mayer/?mod=tweet.
Where they’ll look, who they’ll find and hire remain open questions. Where can’t exclude Google, former takeover partner, Microsoft, or even Facebook at this point. The executive search firm, Spencer Stuart and Jim Citrin, are leading the effort, which means whoever emerges will likely be a known commodity doing the job close by.
Since Yahoo has been a poster child of CEO failure over the past five years, “The Garlington Report (TGR)” decided to ask a few additional questions along the lines of why does Yahoo need a COO and what can this person contribute that’s not already in the mix.
Responses among executive recruiters yielded some strong views that seemed worth sharing. Passion is never fleeting among true king and queen maker wannabes. Here is a sampling of comments not for attribution (primarily so people can speak freely without fear of being misquoted, mischaracterized or, a personal favorite, misunderstood.)
“…Marissa needs all the firepower she can get to turn the ship around. If she needs to call him/her a COO, a president, a head of industrialization.Whatever she just needs really great leaders around the table. I don’t care whether she has five COOs. I just care that she makes it…I’m also sick of everyone, including myself, who want to attack the brave vs. wanting them to succeed. We need to see winning CEOs, not more failures.”
It’s worth noting that in today’s rapid fire environment the time to develop into a great CEO simply isn’t provided anymore. Everyone wants results overnight; few are willing to be patient like they should. Meddling boards bowing to activist pressure usually are to blame for this dynamic.
Other industry players aren’t sold on Mayer’s chops as CEO and see the COO hire as a way to bring much needed competency that doesn’t exist at the top. Here’s a particularly strong indictment (which now brings things full circle.)
“They (Yahoo) need a COO because their CEO has no content to do the job. Never reported to a board, never reported to a CEO, never led anything (other than products), never done a turnaround, is not financially literate, never led large teams, never owned a P&L (profit and loss statement), only worked in a monopoly with the wind at her back, never dealt with an activist shareholder — should I keep going?”