Kara Swisher

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Confirmed: Yahoo Names PayPal Head Scott Thompson as New CEO

As I reported late last night, Yahoo said it had named PayPal President Scott Thompson as its new CEO. The exec is currently in charge of the large eBay online payments unit.

He’ll start next week, but there are staff conference calls today and also an all-hands meeting on Yahoo’s main Silicon Valley campus (meet at URLs, troops!) tomorrow.

Yahoo shares are down almost three percent on the news so far, as Wall Street has been hoping for a big sale of some sort and not another turnaround.

Yahoo will be holding a 7 am PT press conference about the move and presumably to swan around Thompson.

(Welcome, Scott! I hope you were informed — please do not listen to what co-founder Jerry Yang says on this important issue — that you are supposed to send all internal memos to me! Also, as one of my Twitter followers, Mike Dudas of Google just tweeted: “If Thompson leads companies as well as he grows a moustache, Yahoo made a great CEO choice!!” I concur.)

A Yahoo PR person confirmed the hire very cordially in a phone call early this morning and the Internet giant also put out a press release.

So did I, of a sort, last night. Given I am too tired to rewrite myself, here is what I had reported:

The company fired its last CEO, Carol Bartz, in September, and Yahoo has been run by the board and also by interim CEO Tim Morse, who had previously been its CFO.

After Bartz’s ouster, Yahoo said it was looking at a range of strategic options, including the possible sale of all or part of the company.

That was the focus at first, although Yahoo had simultaneously hired Heidrick & Struggles to look for a new CEO.

The company attracted two partial investment bids from private equity firms, Silver Lake and TPG Capital, but shareholders were unhappy with the low prices of these so-called PIPE — Private Investment in Public Equity — arrangements.

Yahoo then moved to try to strike a tax-advantaged deal with its long disgruntled Asian partners, China’s Alibaba Group and Japan’s SoftBank, to sell back parts of the large stakes it has long owned in Alibaba and Yahoo! Japan.

Those complex negotiations are still ongoing and look promising, which could yield Yahoo billions of dollars in capital to be given to investors, for stock buybacks or to invest in new initiatives.

Since then, the board — long considered one of the more cloddish in tech — has turned its attention to hiring a new CEO, in the hopes of trying once again to revive its flagging fortunes.

Thus, it began looking to hire someone with deep tech experience at a large public consumer Internet company in Silicon Valley.

That narrowed the field, with Yahoo looking at a range of choices with expertise in advertising, technology platforms and more.

There is a lot of that on the deep bench that eBay CEO John Donahoe has assembled at the online commerce giant, including Thompson.

Plus, he is a genuine Internet geek.

According to his eBay bio, Thompson became president of PayPal in early 2008, after serving as its CTO in charge of information technology, product development and architecture.

Before eBay, he worked at Inovant, a subsidiary of Visa formed to oversee global technology for the organization. He was also CIO of Barclays Global Investors and has worked at Coopers and Lybrand on information technology.

And here’s a tasty new wrinkle: Thompson recently “liked” Yahoo on his Facebook page, along with the decidedly more interesting Kickstarter and Splunk.

Again, Scott, thanks for the Facebook tip — I knew the social networking site could come in handy!

(Also, here is an interview I did with him post-announcement.)

And here is Yahoo’s official press release where Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock says nice stuff about Thompson:

YHOO_News_2012_1_4_General


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— Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, in their farewell D post