Yahoo Beats Google, Microsoft in Alumni Becoming CEOs: Report

Photograph by Kimberly White/Bloomberg News

Russell Reynolds's analysis of 135 tech companies found that former Yahoo employees account for more current CEOs than any other company.

For a company that has struggled to keep a chief executive officer in place, Yahoo! has spawned more than its share of technology leaders from its ranks who have gone on to run other companies.

More of today’s leading technology CEOs previously worked at Yahoo than any other company, including Google and Microsoft, according to a report by recruiter Russell Reynolds Associates.

In its analysis of 135 prominent public and private U.S. technology companies, the executive search firm found 8.9 percent of current CEOs came from Yahoo, including LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner. Google alumni followed with 5.1 percent, Microsoft at 3.7 percent, and Facebook and EBay tied for fourth place at 2.9 percent.

Russell Reynolds’s report, entitled “Anatomy of a Digital CEO,” also looked at other similarities among technology bosses, including the colleges they attended, what they studied and even the most common name.

The study comes as more companies across different industries seek leaders with technology experience, according to Nada Usina, managing director of technology and digital transformation at Russell Reynolds. She said the firm is conducting dozens of searches for digital executives.

“They want someone from the digital world who’s a rock star,” Usina said in an interview. “We wanted to understand what that leadership looks like.”

Usina said it’s not surprising that many of the CEOs came from companies such as Yahoo, a technology pioneer that has had its own leadership difficulties. Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo from Google last month as the website operator’s fifth CEO in three years.

“Fundamentally, you still have strong talent in those environments,” said Usina, who used to work at Yahoo as director of entertainment business development.

Among the report’s other findings, 69 percent of the current CEOs founded the companies themselves, 21 percent were hired from the outside, and 10 percent were promoted internally. As for the most popular undergraduate schools, 13 percent of the tech bosses attended either Harvard University or Stanford University. Economics, computer science and engineering together made up nearly 60 percent of the majors among the chief executives.

As for the most common name? David.

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