Since Yahoo fired its CEO Carol Bartz last month, the company has said it's been looking for her replacement. But according to a new report, it only recently started looking hard.
Citing anonymous sources, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yahoo's board of directors has finally put its search for a new CEO atop its list of priorities. The sources said that the Yahoo board was initially focusing its efforts on attracting potential suitors, but it now views the addition of a permanent CEO as integral to its plans.
Yahoo's board fired Carol Bartz last month, citing poor stock performance and a desire to find a new CEO that could more effectively traverse the increasingly difficult online landscape. In her place, Yahoo appointed Tim Morse as interim CEO. However, soon after her ouster, reports started surfacing, claiming a host of companies were interested in acquiring all or part of Yahoo. In response, Yahoo reportedly hired investment banks to help the company consider potential offers.
Previously, according to the Journal's sources, Yahoo's board was considering simply going it alone without a permanent CEO. But now, the sources say, the board has decided that hiring a CEO now would help the company determine its direction if no offers are accepted. One of the Yahoo sources also told the Journal that the CEO could help swing the balance of power back in Yahoo's favor, since the lack of leadership might give bidders more "leverage." Based on that, it appears bidders don't believe Tim Morse is a real consideration in their strategies.
Considering Yahoo's earnings call last week, it appears the board isn't looking to Morse in the decision-making process. During the call, he was pelted with questions from analysts asking for updates on a potential sale and a replacement for Bartz. Each time, he simply pointed to the board.
"It's under way," Morse said of Yahoo's CEO search. "That's the board's process and I don't have any comment on the board's process." He added that "the board's process is the board's process."
When it comes to the CEO search, however, the board's process has been somewhat lacking, if the Journal's sources are correct. In fact, the people said that Yahoo doesn't even have a list of potential replacements for Bartz yet.
As dangerous as that might be for Yahoo's future, it appears that investors, at least so far, are willing to stand by the company's board. Since Bartz's firing, Yahoo shares are up 26 percent to $16.06.
Yahoo did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on its CEO search.