There was Jim Heckman, Levinsohn’s top dealmaker, who’d spent months negotiating a huge deal with Microsoft.
There was Shashi Seth, Yahoo’s top product management executive, already planning a long-needed update to Yahoo Mail and the Yahoo home page.
He’s actually from Southern California, and sometimes he puts off a surfer vibe. As the interim CEO talked, Loeb stood at the back of the room and played with his Black Berry.
During Levinsohn’s presentation, Loeb looked bored. One person in the room remembers watching Loeb texting for a while and then, “during the most important part of the presentation,” getting up and going to the bathroom for 10 minutes. Sorry, Ross, you’re not CEO anymore.” After the meeting, Barrett, the Google executive Amoroso had helped Levinsohn poach, called Levinsohn to ask how it went.
Loeb ran a hedge fund called Third Point, which owned more than 5 percent of Yahoo and had, only months before, forced the resignation of Yahoo’s previous CEO.
Wolf was an important ally for Levinsohn to have, too.
As important as it was for Levinsohn to have Amoroso’s support, he needed Loeb’s more.
For each name they came up with, they came up with a persuasive reason why that person could not be it.
Whom had Wolf and Loeb so clearly already decided on? On Monday, July 16, four days after Levinsohn’s last board meeting, Yahoo made it official: Thirty-seven-year-old Marissa Mayer was Yahoo’s new CEO.
Wolf, a former president of MTV, was consulting for Third Point on media investments when Loeb asked him to join the Yahoo board and lead its search committee for a new CEO. It was going to be a doozy, as he planned to seriously alter the direction of Yahoo.
He wanted it to stop competing with technology businesses like Google and Microsoft and focus entirely on competing with media and content businesses like Disney, Time Warner, and News Corporation.