Four months after firing Carol Bartz, Yahoo! Inc. has chosen Scott Thompson (photo courtesy PayPal, all rights reserved) as its new CEO. Thompson, who will officially take office on January 9, was born in 1958 and has a technical background because he was president of PayPal but previously held roles connected to technological innovation in that company as well as in others such as Inovant, a Visa subsidiary.
Interim CEO Tim Morse will return to being the company’s Chief Financial Officer. During these few months under his management, Yahoo! acquired the online advertising solutions provider Interclick with the aim of increasing the profits from advertising space on its own site, which remains one of the Internet’s most visited.
At the press conference held yesterday, Scott Thompson said that his priorities are revenue growth and leading Yahoo! to the forefront of innovation. The new CEO has also showed his attention to the growing importance of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones: Facebook and Google are already working in various ways to take advantage of that growth and Yahoo! have to work in that direction as well.
Surely Scott Thompson’s task won’t be easy. Yahoo! is a company that in recent years seemed in decline and Thompson is the fourth CEO in less than five years so there’s skepticism about the possibility that it may go back to being the leading company it was a few years ago.
One of the problems to be solved concerns Yahoo’s shares in Asian companies, starting from Alibaba. There are investors who are pressing for those shares to be sold to obtain an income, which would be several billion dollars, and focus the company’s resources in a better way. An announcement in this regard in the near future wouldn’t be a surprise.
There are still rumors of a possible sale of Yahoo!, also because in November Microsoft signed a confidentiality agreement to gain access to the company’s financial information, a move that would make sense to evaluate its acquisition. Certainly, if that possibility were to materialize Microsoft wouldn’t pay the $44 billion it offered in 2008 but the value of the company is still estimated around $20 billion.
The doubts about Scott Thompson are due to the fact that he never worked in a company like Yahoo! and after the announcement of his appointment the value of the company’s shares went down. However, the company made a choice and deciding which direction to go is already a good thing. Of course it might not be enough.