Yahoo names PayPal’s Scott Thompson as new CEO

Scott Thompson

Yahoo has announced that it has named PayPal chief Scott Thompson as its new Chief Executive Officer, effective January 9, at which point interim CEO Tim Morse will return to his previous duties as Chief Financial Officer. Thompson has served as the president of eBay’s PayPal division since January 2008; before that, he was a PayPal senior vice president and chief technology officer. In addition to the Yahoo CEO job, he’ll also get a seat on the Yahoo board.

“Scott brings to Yahoo a proven record of building on a solid foundation of existing assets and resources to reignite innovation and drive growth, precisely the formula we need,” said Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock, in a statement. “His deep understanding of online businesses combined with his team building and operational capabilities will restore the energy, focus, and momentum necessary to grow the core business and deliver increased value for our shareholders.”

“We are all grateful to Tim Morse for leading the company with a steady hand during the last several months,” Bostock also noted.

Yahoo says Thompson’s initial focus will be on Yahoo’s core business, with the first order of business to continue the strategic review process wherein Yahoo has been looking at various possibilities for streamlining the company, including “>Alibaba.

Yahoo has been without a permanent CEO since September when it summarily fired Carol Bartz; Thompson will mark Yahoo’s fourth CEO in the short span of five years as the once-mighty Internet company struggles to retool its services in the wake of the social networking and mobile revolutions.

Thompson certainly has his work cut out for him. Although Yahoo boasts more than 700 million users—making it one of the most highly-trafficked services on the Internet—the company’s stock has essentially flatlined since Microsoft’s abortive hostile takeover attempt back in 2008. Yahoo executed a search deal with Microsoft that has Bing powering the back end of Yahoo’s Web search service, but while the company has some enormous properties in things like Yahoo Mail, Yahoo Messenger, and Flickr—and Yahoo’s news and finance services have large user bases—the company has generally failed to capitalize on social networking and mobile technologies and scattered its efforts across a wide range of smaller offerings, many of which it has since shut down.

Yahoo has also been steadily losing ground in Internet advertising to the likes of Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Former CEO Carol Bartz was criticized for not having a background in online advertising; Thompson doesn’t either, being primarily a technologist with little experience in advertising or media. Thompson says one of his first orders of business will be meeting with sales teams and regional leaders to get a clearer understanding of what publishers and advertisers want from Yahoo. He also promises to work closely with product teams to ramp up on Yahoo’s products and services.

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