By firing Carol Bartz, perhaps the best-known woman in Silicon Valley, Yahoo now has a new thing to search for: a new CEO -- or perhaps, in Yahoo lingo, a new Chief Yahoo.
True, Jerry Yang and David Filo, the former Stanford University computer students who invented the company long before Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up with Google, hold those titles. Yang actually held the CEO's job for two years until the board hired Bartz away from Autodesk, the architectural design software company she transformed and grew.
Nobody remembers the original Yahoo CEO, Tim Koogle, anymore. Koogle, an engineer, was lured away from InterMec and brought in as Yahoo's first CEO before its IPO. And he was the one who guided Yahoo through its transformative IPO in 1996.
Then, Yahoo was one of the first skyrockets of the Internet boom. On April 11, 1996, Goldman Sachs priced its shares at $13. The first trade was $24.50 and Yahoo traded as high as $43, before it closed at $33.
Yahoo's IPO came on the heels of those of rivals like Excite and Lycos, which barely register any longer.
Koogel left and was replaced by Hollywood executive Terry Semel, then Yang and finally Bartz, 63, a computer scientist who had been a dynamo at Sun Microsystems before her Autodesk stint. She also won plaudits for disclosing she had breast cancer and would be treated for it, then for years discussed why detection of all cancers is vital.
Investors like Carl Icahn had bought into Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. While he's out, big institutions control near 80 percent and weren't happy with Bartz's performance. The company now has a market capitalization around $16.3 billion, but that's far below Google's $168 billion and Microsoft's $213.7 billion.
Yahoo now ranks as a No. 2 behind Google and just ahead of Microsoft in search and eyeballs. One of Bartz's achievements was to hand over many technical details to Microsoft, which has scored well with Bing. Microsoft had offered $44 billion to buy Yahoo, but the board rebuffed that.
Interim CEO David Morse is a finance person, formerly at Altera, a semiconductor designer. The board of directors includes some proven technology whizzes such as Vyomesh Joshi, HP's printer czar, but nobody else with Bartz's star ability.
Yahoo's chairman, Roy Bostock, is a retired advertising executive. He fired Bartz in a telephone call Monday. Now that he's looking for a replacement, maybe he could look for some magic.
Candidates could include some media and technology veterans with credibility. Prospects could include:
Will Hearst, a scion of the publishing family and former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, now with Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, the venture capital firm.
Bill Keller, who just stepped down as Executive Editor of The New York Times to return to full-time writing. Keller turned around the Times after it was shaken by editorial scandals that had partially destroyed its credibility.
Gary Ginsberg, former News Corp. EVP for global marketing, now at TimeWarner, who has experience in news as well as advertising.
Paul Sagan, CEO of Akamai, which for years has been one of the top Internet content providers as it assists clients in delivering Internet media. David Kenny, Akamai president, is already a Yahoo director.