Recent research indicates hiring outside CEOs is usually a bad choice for a company. Here's a look at how Silicon Valley companies have handled finding CEOs:

  • Yahoo: Of the five most recent CEOs, four came from outside the company. The exception was co-founder Jerry Yang, but let's put him aside for a moment since his return to the CEO seat was unusual. Each time, the company passed over an internal candidate who many felt was eminently qualified, and possibly a leading candidate. Each time, the outsider failed. We'll see if CEO Marissa Mayer, a surprise pick over an insider, can break that streak.

  • Hewlett-Packard: Stretching back to Carly Fiorina, and through several boards, the company has repeatedly passed over less-glamorous inside candidates (such as Ann Livermore and Todd Bradley) to bring in outsiders. It seemed to achieve moments of greatness under Mark Hurd, but overall, the company is a calamity. The latest outsider, Meg Whitman, is not exactly setting the world on fire.

  • Apple: Steve Jobs groomed Tim Cook for years to take over. And while the past month has been rough, overall his first year has been strong. Indeed, Jobs often felt his greatest legacy would be to create a company with a culture to carry on well after he was gone by creating new leaders from within its own ranks.


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  • Cisco: Recently, John Chambers had raised the issue of who will succeed him. Just this month, he promoted two-executives to be co-presidents. Smart.

  • Oracle: This is a tough one. Larry Ellison, it sometimes seems, just might run this company forever. But he has said at various times, that should he step aside, co-president Safra Catz would take the helm. Of course, now the other co-president is Mark Hurd, formerly of HP. Should he succeed Ellison, he would be kind of a hybrid inside-outside candidate.