Yahoo enlists search firm for CEO hunt

Ross Levinsohn backed by insiders to replace Thompson

Yahoo has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to beat the bushes for a new CEO, though company insiders hope that interim chief Ross Levinsohn will get the job, according to a report Monday.

The site All Things D quoted a person close to the situation as saying the job “is Ross’s to lose.”

Levinsohn was promoted from head of Yahoo’s worldwide media business last month to replace Scott Thompson who left after only five months on the job when an investor exposed an inaccuracy in his resume. Thompson had blamed search firm Heidrich & Struggles, which recruited him first to PayPal, and then the Yahoo, for the reference to a nonexistent college degree in computer science.

The investor, Daniel Loeb’s Third Point, cut a deal with Yahoo to appoint Loeb and two other directors of his choosing, Michael J. Wolf and Harry Wilson, to Yahoo’s board. The company said in a proxy statement Monday afternoon it will hold its annual shareholder meeting July 12 in Santa Clara, Calif.

Yahoo has had enormous turnover in the past several years in the CEO suite and the boardroom. Eight members of the 11-member board proposed in the proxy joined as directors in 2012.

Former NBC Entertainment chief Jeff Zucker was also on Loeb’s initial slate but didn’t end up on Yahoo’s board.

Thompson, who joined Yahoo in January, was conspicuously missing from the dense 80-plus page proxy Yahoo filed with SEC, which pertains to 2011.

The required list of compensation for the top five highest paid execs listed Levinsohn, chief financial officer Tim Morse, general counsel Michael Callahan, former CEO Carol Bartz and former chief product officer Blake Irving.

Bartz, who ankled in Sept. of 2011 but was not fired for cause, had a package last year worth $16.4 million.

Levinsohn’s total compensation was $11.9 million, mostly in stock and stock options.