November 17, 2013 – As the nation's third largest executive recruiter narrows down a short list of candidates to fill its chief executive vacancy, sources say any choice in leadership could hinge on finding a leader who will guide Heidrick back to private ownership. Trading in the public markets has complicated the firm's efforts to find a suitable chief — and a growing chorus of partners within Heidrick has supported the idea of choosing a leader who shares their vision of returning the firm to private ownership. Heidrick has been searching for a well-seasoned leader with service sector experience who can inspire confidence, reinvigorate the firm's culture and drive it through a particularly challenging period. Heidrick went public at the height of the Internet boom in 1999 amid expectations that it would reinvent itself as a leader in online recruiting — forecasted to be the billion-dollar future of the talent acquisition business. Along the way it recruited top leadership for Internet icons like Google — where Heidrick installed Eric E. Schmidt to run the company and took its payment in the form of warrants that allowed it to buy over one million Google shares for 30 cents a piece as Google prepared for its IPO. With those days squarely behind it and 14 years after its own IPO, Heidrick insiders say the firm might be wise to return to a private model that would allow it more operating flexibility and a way to keep key revenue producers around for the next boom cycle.