Yahoo hires a new CEO to fix the troubled company

Bob Moon Jan 4, 2012

Tess Vigeland: Do you Yahoo? Apparently lots of you do, because it remains the world’s fourth most popular website. And that’s the problem — it’s stuck there.

The company has been through a series of CEOs who’ve been under pressure to turn around the company’s online advertising business. Today, yet another new leader: Scott Thompson, former president of eBay’s online payment unit, PayPal. Our senior business correspondent Bob Moon looks at this latest transaction in Yahoo’s mixed history.

Bob Moon: It’s been quite a while since investors have been singing its praises.

Commercial: Yahoo!

That’s because the company has struggled to compete with Google and Facebook — even though it’s one of the internet’s most popular destinations.

John Abell has been a longtime follower of the company at Wired Magazine.

John Abell: They have 700 million users. They get mad traffic. Number four in the world and number four in the United States is pretty darn big.

But Yahoo isn’t growing beyond its loyal following. Abell says the company lost its way when it shifted its focus from being an Internet gateway to actually creating content. And he thinks Thompson, as PayPal’s former chief technology officer, can help Yahoo re-focus.

Abell: He is a signal that the pretention of being a media company is over, and now we’re going to try this again. We have all the data in the world, and a lot of people like us. So how do we maximize that and stop trying to be something, you know, sexy.

At Evercore Partners, analyst Ken Sena agrees that Yahoo can use a leader who’s strong on the tech side. He says the company needs to expand its reach — and pull in more advertisers — through new technologies, from smart phones to tablet computers.

Ken Sena: To get people to actually want to use Yahoo as frequently as they did before, but in kind of a new online environment.

The move could hold off Yahoo’s possible sale, either in pieces, or the whole company. Analyst Brett Harriss watches Yahoo at Gabelli and Company.

Brett Harriss: You wouldn’t hire a CEO and then sell the company.

That may depend on how long the CEO lasts. Thompson will be Yahoo’s fourth chief exec in less than five years.

I’m Bob Moon for Marketplace.

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