Thank you for doing the right thing, Jerry Yang. Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) CEO is finally stepping down, as soon as the company identifies a worthy replacement. And I can't be the only one who saw this coming.

"Do you really think that Yahoo! investors will put up with the company's board if the share price doesn't recover in time for next summer's annual shareholder meeting," I asked last week, suggesting that now is the time to buy Yahoo!. "Of course not."

Finding a willing chieftain should be easy. Despite the company's many near-term challenges, who wouldn't want the hot relay baton? It's a win-win gig. If the new CEO is just keeping the seat warm until Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) makes a fresh move, an incentive-laden contract can be a golden parachute for anyone who puts "willingness to nod head and shake hands" high on the resume.

If the next CEO would prefer to roll up those sleeves and tackle the turnaround, there's insane upside to Yahoo!, provided it can ever learn to flourish outside of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) growing shadow.

The problem with founder CEOs
I have the perfect choice for Yahoo!'s next CEO. How do you feel about co-founder David Filo?

I'm kidding, of course. Filo is by all accounts a sharp guy; he originally teamed up with Yang to revolutionize the Internet with their search engine. But foresight is fleeting. Just because you were a visionary in the 1990s doesn't mean that you have a feel for the future today.

If Yang's departure accomplishes one thing, let it be the end to the romanticism of the founder CEO returning to the helm. Just because Steve Jobs did it at Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) doesn't mean it's a blueprint worth following.

  • It didn't work at Yahoo!.
  • It flopped when Ted Waitt returned to Gateway seven years ago. 
  • It's not flying at Dell Computer (NASDAQ:DELL), where the company has languished despite Michael Dell's return.
  • As much as it pains me to say this, Howard Schultz hasn't rocked the world since making his celebrated return to Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX).

The success that Jobs has achieved at Apple is an anomaly. If you want a company to execute a turnaround, it's unlikely to come at the hands of those who know the company the best. Measurable change is more likely to come from an outsider who doesn't have to worry about thinking outside of the box, because he or she has never been inside that particular box to begin with.

Hit the Decker
Sadly, Yang's reign makes it unlikely that Sue Decker will be the next CEO. She was definitely being groomed for the position when Terry Semel bowed out last year, but shareholders won't settle for anything less than an outsider. If the next CEO bleeds purple, it will be strictly the end result of a transfusion.

So, who will be the next Yahoo! CEO? The company was burned by a Hollywood vet in Semel, so it's unlikely to go in that direction. Then again, Michael Eisner would be an intriguing name, especially since he has spent most of his time post-Mouse on Web-related projects.

Going for a pure techie mind would also be a mistake, judging by Yang's nearsightedness.

So if the company has been burned by both Hollywood and Silicon Valley, where can it turn? How about someone like Meg Whitman? As long as she's not angling for political aspirations, she would bridge the gap between tech and consumer.

Whitman would also be a household name, which could work to the company's advantage. Yes, she overstayed her welcome at eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), but she can always point to the deteriorating state of the online marketplace since she's been gone.

Yahoo! can always try to do the brainy thing and hire away a key exec from Google or Microsoft. It would make the company stronger at the expense of weakening a fierce rival. However, Yahoo! needs a name that will excite the masses. A sharp track record in business wouldn't hurt.

Oprah Winfrey, where art thou?

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Starbucks, Microsoft, and Dell are Motley Fool Inside Value selections. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers pick. Starbucks, eBay, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz would rather throw a search party than call for one. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.