The search for Carol Bartz's successor is finally over. Scott Thompson, president of eBay's PayPal division, is Yahoo's next CEO. Thompson will take the reins -- and a seat on the board -- on Monday and acting CEO Tim Morse will resume his role as CFO.
Under Thompson's leadership, PayPal solidified its lead as the global online payment service, expanded its user base from 50 million to more than 104 million active users in 190 countries, increased the number of merchant partners to more than 8 million globally, and grew revenues from $1.8 billion to $4 billion-plus in 2011.
"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 at Yahoo," said Roy Bostock, chairman of Yahoo's board. "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."
Thompson previously served as PayPal's senior vice president and chief technology officer. Prior to PayPal, he was executive vice president of technology solutions at Inovant , a subsidiary of Visa formed to oversee global technology for the organization. He was also CIO of Barclays Global Investors.
Thompson said Yahoo has a rich history and a solid foundation to build on. He said his immediate focus would be on getting to know the entire team and hearing more from all employees. He plans to work closely with the engineers and product teams, and dive deeply into Yahoo products and services to learn more about what users find most engaging and useful.
"I will also be working directly with our region leaders and sales teams globally to get a clearer understanding of the needs of our advertisers and publishers," Thompson said. "Clearly, speed is important but we will attack both the opportunity ahead and the competitive challenges with an appropriate balance of urgency and thoughtfulness. I cannot wait to get started."
The Right Skill Set
Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, is surprised Yahoo appointed Thompson CEO. That said, Sterling said Thompson has the mix of skills, including technology and product chops that were clearly lacking in Bartz.
"PayPal has been the bright spot in the eBay earnings picture and Thompson has played an instrumental role in PayPal's continuing success. But he confronts a wide range of challenges at Yahoo and in the market as a whole, including intense competition from Facebook and Google for display ad dollars," Sterling said.
"Yahoo needs to invest in product development, technology and personnel. Thompson understands these things and is probably fairly sober about the challenges ahead. While he's not a charismatic New York media company or advertising executive, he may have what it takes to get Yahoo back on its feet."