Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo
Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo, is now "observer" with China's Lenovo Group. REUTERS

Akamai Technologies President David Kenny quit as the company reported a 6.5 percent gain in net profit, leading to speculation he may be tapped as Yahoo's next CEO.

Kenny, 49, already a Yahoo director, is the only member of the embattled search-engine and media company's board to have direct experience in its immediate sector.

Since Carol Bartz, 63, was fired last month, Yahoo's interim CEO has been CFO Tim Morse, 41, a financial executive who was formerly CFO of Altera, the specialty semiconductor designer.

I now want to return to my first passion of pursuing emerging opportunities on the consumer Internet, Kenny said. He didn't provide further details but also resigned as a director of the Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai, which manages servers to speed content delivery for clients like Apple and NBCUniversal.

Akamai shares jumped more than 15 percent in early Thursday trading to $27.41, in part because of the company's third-quarter performance and fourth-quarter forecast of revenue around $315 million, higher than expected.

Yahoo shares rose 1.5 percent to $16.53, bringing the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's market capitalization to $20.2 billion. Since Bartz was fired Sept. 5, Yahoo shares have gained 29 percent.

Yahoo has hired Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. for strategic advice but has not announced future plans. Takeover speculation has swirled around current technology partners such as Microsoft and China's Alibaba Group, as well as rival Google.

Private equity firms including Silver Lake Partners, Providence Equity Partners and Russia's Digital Sky Technologies have indicated some interest in the company.

Other Yahoo directors with technology experience include Vyomesh Joshi, EVP of Hewlett-Packard's huge Imaging and Printing Group; Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit, the web-based tax specialist as well as co-founder Jerry Yang, who served as CEO between 2007 and 2009,preceding Bartz.

Yahoo has hired Heidrick & Struggles, a large executive recruiter, Wall Street sources said. The firm was responsible for luring Bartz away from Autodesk, where she had been a successful CEO, to Yahoo.