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Hulu CEO drops out of Yahoo CEO race, leaving Levinsohn as likely choice
[July 06, 2012]

Hulu CEO drops out of Yahoo CEO race, leaving Levinsohn as likely choice

Jul 06, 2012 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Online video site Hulu announced Friday that its CEO, Jason Kilar, has "graciously declined" to be considered for the same job at Yahoo (YHOO), likely handing the job to interim Yahoo CEO Ross Levinsohn.

News sources reported Thursday that Yahoo had narrowed its choices to Kilar and Levinsohn, who took the helm of the Sunnyvale company when Scott Thompson stepped down in disgrace after it was revealed he falsely claimed a computer science degree on his company bio.

After media reports that Kilar had bowed out, a Hulu spokesman issued an email statement confirming the move, which read, "As has been reported, Jason Kilar has been a focus of the Yahoo CEO search committee. He has graciously declined to be considered." Levinsohn has been in control of Yahoo since May 13, when Thompson officially left the company less than six months after taking charge. Yahoo also struck a deal at the same time with its largest outside investor, a hedge fund called Third Point that had originally informed the public about Thompson's false bio. The agreement placed Daniel Loeb -- the head of Third Point, which owns 5.8 percent of the company -- and three of his choices on the Yahoo board, which is making the CEO selection.

Levinsohn ran Yahoo's digital media business before taking over, and previously was president of News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media, handling operations, strategy and acquisitions. He also held management jobs with AltaVista, a pioneer in search, and CBS Sportsline. He is the fourth person to sit in Yahoo's CEO seat in less than a year: After firing Carol Bartz in September of 2011, Yahoo installed Chief Financial Officer Tim Morse as interim CEO until Thompson took control in January.

Both Loeb and Levinsohn feel strongly that the company needs to create much more premium content -- original videos, blogs and news -- to attract advertising dollars and make Yahoo a viable competitor with the enormously successful Google (GOOG) and the booming Facebook.

In a speech to investors last year, when he was head of Yahoo's Americas region, Levinsohn said there is an estimated $42 billion in the market for online content by 2014, much of that driven by video.

"The goal is pretty simple, " he told investors. "Grab more of these premium dollars on every platform, on the Web, on mobile, on connected TV." That means original content that draws advertising dollars from major brands, he said.

Similarly, Third Point has called on Yahoo to grow its media business, produce more original content, expand its video offerings and leverage partnerships with leading Internet companies to build revenue.

"We believe there is tremendous opportunity to improve Yahoo's core business, " Third Point said in a federal securities filing.

Mercury News staff writer Pete Carey contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at

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