Yahoo names PayPal's Thompson as CEO

Wed Jan 4, 2012 5:25pm EST
 
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Yinka Adegoke

SAN FRANCISCO Jan 4 (Reuters) - Yahoo named PayPal President Scott Thompson as its chief executive on Wednesday, hoping the well-regarded Internet technology and e-commerce expert will replicate his success at eBay Inc and turn around the struggling company.

Thompson, credited with driving growth at eBay's online payments division PayPal, joins Yahoo during a period of turmoil, as the company plows ahead with a strategic review in which discussions have included the possibility of being sold, taken private or broken up.

Shares of Yahoo were down about 2 percent in mid-morning trading, as Wall Street assessed how Thompson's hiring would affect the hopes of some investors that Yahoo would be sold or spin off its Asian assets, as well as how Thompson's background fits in with Yahoo's core online media business.

"It's a positive outcome, but not as positive as a sale of the company," said Lawrence Haverty, a fund manager with GAMCO investors, which owns Yahoo shares.

"The risk element is that his background was in payments. And this is not a payment company; it's a marketing, technology company," he said.

Thompson, a former Visa payments software platform designer, joins the company four months after the firing of previous CEO Carol Bartz as the one-time Web powerhouse Yahoo struggles to compete with newer heavyweights Google Inc and Facebook.

"I'm from Boston, we're the underdogs since the beginning of time. Hopefully that spirit has held through. I like doing complicated, very difficult, very challenging things," Thompson said in an interview.

Thompson, who takes over on January 9, will also join Yahoo's board. He ran eBay's PayPal since early 2008, and was previously its chief technology officer. Under his leadership, Yahoo said PayPal increased its user base from 50 million to more than 104 million active users. PayPal processed $29 billion in payments in the third quarter of 2011.   Continued...