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Yahoo Taps PayPal President Scott Thompson as CEO

Chairman Roy Bostock: Yahoo will remain public

Scott Thompson Courtesy: PayPal

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Yahoo’s C-suite finally has a new CEO.

Four months after ousting former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, the embattled Sunnyvale, Calif., company today announced that Scott Thompson would become the new chief executive, starting Jan. 9. Thompson joins Yahoo from eBay’s PayPal division, where he was most recently president.

During a conference call with analysts following the announcement Wednesday morning, Thompson said that he brings from PayPal a track record of balancing the needs of consumers and advertisers.

“I feel very, very strongly that balancing is what we need to have here at Yahoo, between the consumers and the customer experience . . . and the content and the advertisers and what they need to make this relevant to their business,” he said. “Big Internet businesses and network effects are derived when you get a balance between constituents and different parts of an ecosystem. And that’s where we intend to play.”

When asked how Yahoo would compete with Google and Facebook in display advertising, Thompson said it was still too early for him to have an informed opinion on the company’s next steps in that space. But he said his instinct is that Yahoo’s innovations will come from its data.

“I’ve only got a glimpse at this point . . . at how much data all these wonderful businesses of Yahoo have and what it’s being used for today,” he said. “But I feel certain that that wealth of data is going to be exploitable for next-generation products, next-generation experiences and for super-competitive capabilities in the display space and other spaces that are in marketing and advertising.”

Since Bartz’ departure, speculation has been rife that the company would sell all or parts of the company. But when an analyst on the call asked if the company should be public or private, Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock jumped in to say, “We are a public company. I do not envision us not being a public company going forward. . . . It’s kind of a moot issue, frankly, from my point of view.”

Thompson struck an optimistic note on the call, saying he plans to return Yahoo to being “one of those great, iconic brands.” But the new CEO has his work cut out for him. According to research firm eMarketer, Yahoo’s share of the $12.33 billion U.S. display advertising market declined to 13.1 percent in 2011 from 14.4 percent in 2010. Meanwhile, Facebook’s share of the display market grew to 16.3 percent in 2011 from 12.2 in 2010. Google grew its share to 9.3 percent, from 8.6 percent the year before.

Following the announcement Wednesday morning, shares in Yahoo fell about 2 percent to $15.95.