Yahoo CEO Position Still Open as Kilar Intends to Stay at Hulu

Yahoo CEO Position Still Open as Kilar Intends to Stay at Hulu

On Friday morning, rumors were swirling that a few executives were in the hunt for the top role at Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO). Here at ValueWalk, we wrote about this story earlier and cited Jason Kilar of Hulu and Yahoo’s CEO Ross Levinsohn as leading contenders.

As the day comes to an end, there’s only less pony: Hulu’s Jason Kilar.

The Wall Street Journal appears to be on top of the story and in its Deal Journal, it included this quote by a Hulu representative, “As has been reported, Jason Kilar has been a focus of the Yahoo CEO search committee. He has graciously declined to be considered.”

In addition to his Hulu experience, Kilar also hails from Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS).

Levinsohn now seems to be the likely choice and had been expected to grab the top spot. With all the recent executive changes at Yahoo with first Carol Bartz, followed by Scott Thompson’s early exit, who’s to say the third time is a charm?

In a profile by the Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati, the question was posed, “Who is Levinsohn?” Efrati wrote that Levinsohn brings a wealth of ad experience–something that Bartz and Thompson lacked–and relationships with Madison Avenue.

But it doesn’t mean that Levinsohn won’t face a huge set of challenges at the helm. He’ll take on weak Yahoo revenue growth and increasing competition from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG). The company also faces ad-sales competition from media websites including the Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) owned ESPN.com and Hulu LLC.

Efrati also wrote that Levinsohn’s online ads experience could be an advantage. David Cohen, chief media officer at Universal McCann, the media-buying unit of InterPublic Group of Cos. said, “Ross has done a fantastic job spending time with marketers and with agencies to understand what’s important to the advertising community.”

Levinsohn has been at the temporary helm since May. He has been given some latitude by Yahoo’s board to create his own executive team and revisit a strategy he previously started implementing in 2011. This has focused on online advertising for Yahoo’s websites, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Interestingly, Levinsohn has a tie to Kilar. Last fall while serving as Yahoo’s chief of Americas division, he was a supporter of Yahoo’s overtures to purchase Hulu, said sources familiar with the situation. But at the end of the day, Hulu chose to stay as an independent company.

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