The title of one of Silicon Valley’s biggest Internet names is still up for grabs.
As Yahoo’s board meets Wednesday to discuss progress on its search for a new chief executive officer, courage to whomever is named. Yahoo has ushered in — and booted out — five CEOs in the last five years, and skepticism for the next chief executive is fairly high.
Jordan Rohan, senior analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, asserts the popular prediction: Interim-CEO Ross Levinsohn will make the role official. Rohan’s less-popular assertion is that Levinsohn is the one who’ll finally turn the company around.
“I believe Levinsohn is getting it right, he will get it right, and he has the appropriate expectations,” Rohan told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
Levinsohn has only held the interim-CEO position since May of this year. Skeptics point out that he’s better known for his media and advertising know-how, and may lack the technology skills that other Internet leaders, such as Google, have capitalized on.
Rohan argues Levinsohn’s background may be an asset. “Ross realizes what Yahoo’s strengths and weaknesses are. I view the goal, and I think so does he, as: ‘Let’s be a really good digital media company.’ Perhaps becoming the best tech company in the world is not something that’s in the cards."
No matter who steps into the CEO role, turning the ship around will be a daunting challenge.
“The Yahoo job requires a full reorganization, and it may require taking the company private,” said Rohan.
The job proved too much for Hulu CEO Jason Kilar, who turned down Yahoo’s offer just this week. Granted, his refusal came soon after the last Yahoo ouster — that of former CEO Scott Thompson, who’s exit was ushered by activist shareholder Daniel Loeb.
This, too, doesn’t seem to faze Rohan. “I love this stock. A company in this much transition, that still produces this cash flow, could be a situation where you really see some upside,” he said.
Rohan has a $21 price target on Yahoo .
If Rohan has one warning for the next chief, it’s this: “If you’re trying to out-social Facebook , or to out-search Google — it’s just not going to work.”
(CNBC.com and Yahoo have a business alliance to share and co-produce editorial content.)
—By CNBC’s Jennifer Leigh Parker
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Jordan Rohan does not personally own shares of Yahoo, but the company is an investment banking client of his firm, Stifel Nicolaus.
Follow Jennifer Leigh Parker on Twitter @jparker741.