A new name jumps into the Yahoo CEO sweepstakes:
Jessica Vascellaro in the WSJ: Yahoo directors steering the search for a new chief executive are moving closer to a recommendation and have authorised checking references on a few key candidates, say people familiar with the matter, although a decision is likely to be weeks away at the earliest.
Among those being considered is Arun Sarin, who retired as chief executive of Vodafone Group PLC in July, according to people familiar with the matter.
These people cautioned that the informal group of Yahoo board members leading the search at this stage are still considering several other candidates before they present a recommendation to the rest of the board for debate. Board members could continue to propose new names at that point, these people said.
Board members met last week to discuss candidates but the names of the other people under serious consideration could not be learned.
Remember Arun? He has a good reputation. Unfortunately, our primary firsthand interaction with him was when he briefly jumped into Infospace in Bubble 1.0 to help Naveen Jain make it the first trillion-dollar company. He fled briefly thereafter, presumably after discovering what the rest of the world was soon to learn. (That it was a house of cards.)
Mr. Sarin, 54 years old, has largely stayed out of speculation over whom Yahoo might tap for the job, which has included a wide range of executives from other Internet giants and technology companies. But the Yahoo board had been seeking a seasoned technology executive with experience running a public company from the start, and Mr. Sarin, who meets those credentials, continues to remain in contention, according to people familiar with the matter.
After a five-year stint helping turn around one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, Mr. Sarin said earlier this year that he planned to return to California to consider working in private equity, among other options.
During his tenure at Vodafone, he faced fierce pressure from shareholders who threatened to unseat him for failing to diversify beyond the company’s slow-growing European business fast enough.
But he survived the criticism and pushed the company into such high-growth markets as India and Turkey, with Vodafone paying $10.9 billion for a majority stake in Hutchinson Essar Ltd., one of India’s biggest mobile-phone companies in 2007.
At the same time, he worked to cut costs and refocus the company’s strategy in slower-growth markets, experience that could help him guide Yahoo’s own turnaround efforts.
Before taking that job, Mr. Sarin held a variety of management positions for West Coast technology companies, developing deep ties throughout Silicon Valley. He also overlapped with Mr. Yang as a board member of Cisco Systems Inc.
He served as a senior executive at Vodafone-AirTouch PLC, a wireless communications company, which he left to become CEO of Infospace Inc., an Internet content company in 2000. During his short tenure there, he purchased Go2Net, a consumer Internet portal. He left the company for a stint at a joint-investment venture between Accel Partners and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, before he became CEO of Vodafone in 2003.