If you have a negative opinion on Yahoo! (YHOO) CEO Marissa Mayer, take a number but if you have an idea of who should replace her, you only need to step in line behind Robert Peck of SunTrust.
On Monday, Peck released a list of 10 people who could succeed the beleaguered CEO. Yahoo!'s stock has fallen 34% since the start of the year and many of its gains in late 2014 can be attributed to its large stake in Alibaba (BABA).
Peck's list was inspired by investors repeatedly asking, "If not Ms. Mayer, then who?" as well as a terse letter Mayer received from activist shareholder Jeffrey Smith of Starboard Value earlier this month.
"We have grown increasingly frustrated with your unwillingness to accept our help and your dismissive approach to our serious concerns about the current situation at Yahoo!," Smith wrote on Nov. 19.
Starboard suggests that Yahoo! sell its core search and display advertising business and abandon the company's pending spinoff of Aabaco Holdings, which holds Yahoo!'s stakes in Alibaba. It is worth noting that Starboard initially supported the Aabaco spinoff in March, though it still said there were other ways the company could unlock value. Starboard also has a stake in Macy's (M) and suggested that retailer consider spinning off its real estate.
SunTrust, which maintains a Buy rating on Yahoo! and a price target of $40, believes a change in management may be needed in light of the exit of 13 executives from the company so far this year.
"As the company considers another reorganization, we believe the board must assess if the current management team has the support of four factions: senior executives, employees, partners, and investors," Peck wrote on Nov 13.
Peck followed up on his call for management changes on Monday by listing possible successors to Mayer and named five criteria by which candidates would be ranked: public CEO experience; familiarity with Yahoo!; media background; technology experience; and turnaround executions or operational experience.
While Peck reviewed many names, he created a list of the top 10 candidates who were mentioned most. Here they are below along with our commentary:
1. Ross Levinsohn, Chairman Scout Media, former interim Yahoo! CEO
Levinsohn scores well on all of Peck's criteria and possesses a Jack Dorsey-factor as being "uniquely qualified" to be CEO given his "intimate knowledge" of the brand, according to Peck. Also helping Levinsohn's case is his belief in strategically buying businesses for growth.
In an interview earlier this year, Levinsohn spoke of deals he would have pursued had he stayed with Yahoo!.
"Three areas of focus would have been video, mobile and data targeting technologies. When you get to a certain size, it's hard to create big businesses organically. Everyone buys businesses for growth. Google does. Facebook does. Amazon. Even the best companies in the world acquire their way to growth. I liked Hulu a lot and Vevo's content. I loved Spotify and thought Daniel [Ek] was an incredible visionary. I would have pushed for more experiences that could differentiate us with premium content."
2. Dan Rosensweig, CEO Chegg, former Yahoo! COO
As former COO of Yahoo!, Rosensweig also possesses the Jack Dorsey factor, but unlike Levinson, who has stayed in media, Rosensweig's Chegg (CHGG) focuses on online tutoring and textbook rentals. It may be possible that he's been out of the media game for too long. However, Rosensweig's reputation as a uniter as well as his deep connection to -- and relationships within -- Silicon Valley could make him a viable candidate.
3. Jim Lanzone, CBS Interactive CEO
As the current CEO of CBS Interactive (CBS) and former CEO of Ask.com, which was acquired by IAC (IACI), Lanzone is no stranger to new media. In June, Real Money columnist Eric Jackson, spoke of Lanzone's track record in managing CBS Interactive's assets with include CNET and CBS Sports. It is possible he could do the same for Yahoo! and Wall Street, as well as the general public, would view him a serious win for Yahoo!.
4. David Rosenblatt, CEO 1stdibs, former DoubleClick CEO
As current CEO of 1stdibs, an online martketplace for antiques and fine art, Rosenblatt certainly understands how online retail works. His time at the helm of DoubleClick adds to his bona fides but it is unclear how well he would be able to steer Yahoo!'s media business. At the very least, Rosenblatt could leverage his experience at Alphabet-owned (GOOG, GOOGL) DoubleClick to manage Yahoo!'s newly announced deal with Google to have Google provide search ads.
5. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO
Sheryl Sandberg appeared on Peck's list because her name was heard most often as a possible successor. However, SunTrust also listed her as "not likely" given her role at Facebook (FB). In addition to her role at Facebook, a study released by Strategy& last year showed that female CEOs hired from outside would more likely to be forced out of a role than their male counterparts. As much as Sandberg likes to "lean in," being tasked with turning Yahoo! around may be an undesirable career stop -- especially considering that Facebook's market cap of $295 billion eclipses that of Yahoo!'s at $31 billion. She's too big for Yahoo!, but the headlines over her hiring could cause Yahoo!'s stock to rally.
6. Margo Georgiadis, Google President of Americas Ops
While Georgiadis brings solid experience from her time at Google as well as her time as COO of Groupon (GRPN), after Marissa Mayer, is Yahoo! likely to make another direct hire from Google's talent pool?
7. Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube
As YouTube is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Wojcicki faces a similar problem as Georgiadis when it comes to Yahoo making a direct hire from Google. However, given how YouTube has changed media consumption, Wojcicki could be just what Yahoo! needs to turn itself around. She is a visionary who has a solid understanding of computer science as she was behind Google's AdWords, AdSense and Google Analytics products. It is possible that she may be ready for a new challenge at Yahoo!.
8. Beth Comstock, GE Vice Chair of Business Innovations
Since Comstock was just named vice chair in September, it is unlikely that she would look to jump ship from GE (GE) so quickly. Even so, Comstock could be a compelling case down the line as GE CEO Jeff Immelt has credited her with "driving our evolution to a digital industrial company." However, driving innovation at GE is not the same as driving innovation in Silicon Valley. It is not clear how Comstock would perform in the flip-flops and hoodie world of Silicon Valley.
9. Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal Chairman Ad Sales
It is surprising that Yaccarrino appears so far down the list considering her role in ad sales Comcast's (CMCSA) NBCUniversal and her time as COO at Time Warner's (TWX) Turner Broadcasting. Both would have her well equipped to lead Yahoo! but she may lack the digital experience to make her a star hire for Yahoo!.
10. Jason Kilar, Vessel CEO
Prior to becoming the CEO of video subscription service, Vessel, Kilar was the CEO of Hulu. He also serves on the board of DreamWorks (DWA). He certainly understands media, but by SunTrust's measure, he scores low on turnaround capabilities. Serving as CEO of Yahoo!, which has name recognition, could restore Kilar's golden boy status.