Yahoo Taps Scott Thompson as New CEO

Joel Anderson  |

Internet search engine Yahoo (YHOO) has selected Scott Thompson, the president of eBay's (EBAY) online payment unit Pay Pal, to be the company's new CEO.

Yahoo has been without a permanent CEO, relying on interim President and CEO Timothy Morse since the firing of Carol Bartz in September. Now, Scott Thompson immediately steps into a crucible of strategic decisions that are threatening the world's second largest search engine. In a conference call with analysts, it was pointed out that Thompson is coming from an information technology background rather than media or advertising, but Thompson insisted that this was a positive.

“The data these internet businesses create, the ability to use analytical technology to build a better businesses for your customers…I feel certain that wealth of data’s going to be exploitable for next generation products, next generation experiences,” he said. “My instinct says down in that data we’re going to be able to find ways to compete and innovate that the world hasn’t seen yet.”

Thompson also put forth the predictable level of optimism about the company's future and his role in it, stating that the ultimate goal is to “to return this business to being one of those great iconic brands.”

“We’ll be back to innovation, we’ll be back to disruptive concepts,” he added. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t believe that was possible.”

However, the company faces a growing number of challenges that contributed to his predecessor's ouster, most notably a steady decline in market share and relevance due to Facebook and Google (GOOG), and the market's tepid response Wednesday to Thompson's hiring could reflect this. Yahoo was trading down almost 2.5 percent Wednesday morning. Thompson's hiring comes just two weeks after the Yahoo board voted to divest itself from its Asian holdings, planning to sell off stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba (1688.HKG), the Chinese internet giant.

The Alibaba story has been particularly relevant to Yahoo as Jack Ma, the company's chairman and chief executive, has been trying to get back the 40 percent stake in his company that Yahoo owns for some time, even trying to enter into a partnership to purchase the company. Alibaba hired Duerstein Group, a Washington lobbying firm, last week with speculation being that Ma intends to buy Yahoo if the sale of Asian assets fails to go through.

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