David Kenny A Yahoo CEO Candidate?
Add Yahoo board member and former Digitas CEO David Kenny to the list of names being floated in relation to the chief executive job at Yahoo in the wake of Carol Bartz's ouster earlier this month. Kenny -- now president of Akamai Technologies -- is said to be "openly" campaigning for the post, according to a Business Insider report, citing a pair of unnamed sources close to the situation.
The former Digitas and VivaKi head was named to Yahoo's board in February. Neither Kenny or Yahoo responded to media inquiries about his status as a potential candidate for the CEO slot being filled on an interim basis by Yahoo CFO Tim Morse.
The company's board has not provided any specific time frame for its search, but in announcing Bartz's firing on Sept. 6 it pledged to undertake a parallel strategic review.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Yahoo board sent an email last Friday to the company's roughly 14,000 employees, saying the review of options for the Internet giant will take "months, not weeks." Most recently, private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and media executive Peter Chernin have emerged as potential investors in the embattled Web portal.
In the immediate aftermath of Bartz's exit, speculation about her successor seemed to swing back toward bringing on a media industry executive. Bartz, after joining Yahoo from engineering software maker Autodesk, was faulted for lacking a fundamental grasp on the Internet media business.
Names that have surfaced as possible replacements have thus far included Jason Kilar, the well-regarded CEO of up-for-sale Hulu, and Ross Levinsohn, the former Fox Interactive head who is now serving as executive vice president for the Americas at Yahoo. With his extensive background at Digitas and Vivaki, Kenny would also bring an in-depth background in Internet advertising and media.
Kenny's extensive relationships with agencies and marketers could also help Yahoo rebuild its ties to Madison Avenue. And after honing his technical chops at Akamai over the 18 months, Kenny could make a case that he is the right choice to deliver on Yahoo's mantra of providing advertisers "science and art and scale."
Then again, Akamai has not exactly thrived during Kenny's tenure. In the last year, the company's stock price has fallen from about $54 a share to $20.65 today a share as the company comes under increasing pressure from competitors including Level 3 and Limelight.
"While it has been clear for some time that the CDN market is evolving, Akamai has been very slow to respond to these market changes," noted Dan Rayburn in an analysis of Akamai Thursday on Seeking Alpha. Given Akamai's own recent struggles, the Yahoo board may not view him as the best candidate to lead the company's resurgence.