Term Sheet

The latest on private equity, M&A, deals and movements — from Wall Street to Silicon Valley

Parsing Jason Kilar's Yahoo pass

July 6, 2012: 3:11 PM ET

What does "graciously declined" really mean?

FORTUNE -- Earlier this morning, there appeared to be two finalists for the Yahoo (YHOO) CEO job: Interim CEO Ross Levinsohn and Hulu boss Jason Kilar.

But now there is only one, as Hulu just issued the following statement:

"As has been reported, Jason Kilar has been a focus of the Yahoo CEO search committee. He has graciously declined to be considered."

First, let's leave aside the obvious silliness of someone declining to be considered. Pretty sure that's not really something you can decline. For example, I'm considering Albert Pujols for my company softball team. Come on Albert, try to stop me.

So what exactly does Hulu mean? Here are a few options:

1. Kilar just doesn't want the job. He's happy at Hulu. You know, the company that reportedly spurned Yahoo's $2 billion acquisition offer last year. At least he knows the business issues he faces, rather than diving into what many believe is a bottomless pool of despair.

2. Kilar wants the job but saw the writing on the wall. This is the face-saving option. Popular sentiment is that Levinsohn has done a good job since taking over for Scott Thompson, including today's news that Yahoo has settled its patent dispute with Facebook (FB). Moreover, he is the company's third CEO in the past 12 months. Can the rank-and-file really handle a fourth change in leadership? Maybe Kilar came to these realizations late, and is trying to make someone else's decision look like his own.

3. Kilar is still in the running. This is the double-secret recruitment theory. Kilar is still CEO of Hulu, and few companies do well upon hearing that their fearless leader is looking to switch teams. So he officially pulls out, but keeps back channels open. If he gets an offer from Yahoo, then he sheepishly tells the Hulu troops that he tried telling Yahoo no, but then received an offer that he couldn't refuse.

You got an alternate theory?

Sign up for Dan's daily email newsletter on deals and deal-makers: GetTermSheet.com

Posted in: , ,
Join the Conversation
About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

Email a Tip | @danprimack | RSS
Current Issue
  • Give the gift of Fortune
  • Get the Fortune app
  • Subscribe
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.