January 4, 2012, 10:46 AM

Yahoo hires PayPal’s president as CEO

Four months after firing its last CEO, Yahoo picks Scott Thompson at its leader.

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Scott Thompson

Yahoo Inc. has hired Scott Thompson as its CEO. Until yesterday Thompson was president of PayPal, the online payments unit of eBay Inc.

Thompson has worked as president of PayPal since 2008 and was senior vice president and chief technology officer for the company for several years before that. During his time as president, he helped increase the number of PayPal’s active users from 50 million to more than 105 million and increase revenue from $1.8 billion in 2008 to more than $4 billion in 2011, Yahoo says.

"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," says Roy Bostock, chairman of the Yahoo board, which Thompson also will join when he starts at the company next week.

Thompson’s hiring comes four months after Yahoo fired its last CEO, Carol Bartz, who had led the digital media company since January 2009. Yahoo chief financial officer Tim Morse took over CEO duties in the interim and returns to his role as CFO with Thompson’s hire, Yahoo says.

In a conference call with Yahoo investors this morning, Thompson said expanding Yahoo’s user base of 700 million consumers and improving its media assets are keys to increasing top-line revenue. “Yahoo has so many strengths and assets to build on,” he said. “I fundamentally believe that Yahoo’s future depends on its ability to create great products and experiences that fully engage users. We need to refocus our energies on doing what we do really well.”

Yahoo drives the majority of its revenue from search and display advertising. Yahoo’s revenue was down 4.5% during the third quarter to $1.07 billion from $1.12 billion a year earlier. Since 2010, Microsoft Corp.’s Bing engine has powered Yahoo search results and Yahoo shares some search revenue with the company. Yahoo-Bing netted 18.4% of marketers paid search spending during the third quarter, according to IgnitionOne, a digital marketing company that tracks paid search spending. Google Inc. collected 81.6% of spending in the same quarter.

Thompson tendered his resignation to eBay Inc. CEO John Donahoe yesterday, Donahoe wrote in an e-mail distributed to all eBay employees this morning. “While I’m sure Scott’s decision is a shock to many of you, as it was to me, there is one thing I am certain of: PayPal has an enormous opportunity in front of it and we will not slow down,” Donahoe said in the e-mail, which also wished Thompson luck in his new role. Donahoe said he will serve as interim president of PayPal as the PayPal leadership team works on the transition.

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