The body isn’t cold yet (or even officially pronounced dead), but there is already broad speculation on who may be the next CEO of MySpace. Last night we were handed a list of names by a source close to MySpace parent company News Corp., cloak and dagger style, with a “guarantee” that one of them will be the next CEO. We don’t put much faith in the guarantee, but speculation is always interesting. Here’s the list of possible candidates, along with our thoughts on each. We’ve also added a couple of names that we think would be compelling candidates.
Here’s the list:
Jason Calacanis: He’s currently the CEO of Sequoia-backed Mahalo and not likely on the job market. But he has very close ties to new News Corp. Digital chief Jonathan Miller, who controls MySpace. Miller acquired his previous company, Weblogs, Inc. in 2005, and Calacanis has been an unabashed fan ever since. I wouldn’t be surprised if these two worked together again some day. Likelihood: 1/10.
Brad Garlinghouse: The former Yahoo executive and infamous author of the leaked Peanut Butter Manifesto that suggested broad ranging product changes at Yahoo. Most of his recommendations are now finally being implemented. Hard charging, well liked by peers and his team. But he’s likely going to choose semi-retirement and a big paycheck at a private equity firm. He is currently an advisor to Silver Lake, a private equity shop with $14 billion in assets under management. Likelihood: 1/10.
Reid Hoffman: Currently CEO of LinkedIn and, I’m guessing, not interested in the job. But he’s on our secret list, and he certainly would be a dream candidate. He’s grown LinkedIn to a billion dollar valuation and profitability. MySpace and Facebook took the flashier route to success, but LinkedIn has just as much long term potential. Our guess is he won’t stay CEO of LinkedIn for long, newcomer Jeff Weiner (he’s on this list too, see below) is obviously being groomed for the CEO spot as the company prepares for IPO. So he could be on the market down the road. But MySpace isn’t the job he’ll want. Likelihood: 1/10.
Jim Lanzone: Former Ask.com CEO and one of the more promising and creative young executives in Silicon Valley. Currently an EIR at Redpoint. He’d be a fine choice to run MySpace, but word on the street is he’s about to launch a new startup of his own. Likelihood: 1/10.
Ross Levinsohn: Former News Corp. executive and Chris DeWolfe’s boss. Knows MySpace intimately and is close friends and business associates with Miller. Knows the Internet and media and has deep contacts in both industries. Could be the perfect candidate, if he was willing to go back to News Corp. Likelihood: 5/10.
David Liu: Well regarded executive who runs Bebo and other social assets at AOL. All of the AOL execs seem a little shaky on their feet with the new CEO and all the rumors around a spinoff or sale. On the downside, word on the street is he’s one of the guys AOL is looking to keep (same with Joanna Shields and Bill Wilson, two other AOL execs on our list). Likelihood: 1/10.
Jeremy Philips: Executive Vice President at News Corp. and reportedly was interested in Jonathan Miller’s job. Well regarded by Rupert Murdoch. He’d be an obvious choice, but our guess is Miller would want someone less of an insider and with less of a direct line to Murdoch. We’ve also heard he isn’t interested in the job, for what it’s worth. Likelihood: 2/10.
Quincy Smith: Ex Netscape executive, venture capitalist and currently the head of CBS Interactive. MySpace is a step down for him, but it’s not clear what CBS Interactive’s charter is now that their parent company’s market cap has been destroyed. There are also strong rumors of an internal political struggle with former CNET CEO Neil Ashe, who’s now president of CBS Interactive. One of these guys will be leaving the company, and usually it’s the more competent executive who leaves first. Likelyhood: 5/10.
Owen Van Natta: Former Facebook and Amazon executive. Currently the CEO of litigation-mired Playlist.com. He’s only been at Playlist for a few months, but rumor is he’s actively looking for a new job and interviewed for Jonathan Miller’s job. Taking over MySpace would be a dramatic move for the former Facebooker. We consider him a very likely candidate. Likelihood: 5/10.
Jeff Weiner: Former senior Yahoo exec and currently President of LinkedIn. Clearly being groomed for the CEO position (see discussion of Reid Hoffman above). But if the path to CEO isn’t clear, he may be willing to run MySpace. He’d be an excellent candidate, but he’s likely very happy in his current position. Likelihood: 1/10.
Gideon Yu: What sweet revenge this would be. Yu was the CFO of Facebook until two weeks ago, when he was terminated under suspicious circumstances. Extremely well regarded executive who was primarily responsible for Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube. Former Google and Yahoo exec. Superstar, etc. Would be a perfect candidate, but unlikely to want the job. Likelihood: 1/10.