Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Liveblogging the New Yahoo CEO Call: You Might Want to Refrain From Cussing, Scott!

This morning, Yahoo said it had hired PayPal President Scott Thompson as its newest victim, oops, CEO.

(You can read my interview with him too, here.)

AllThingsD.com had reported the pending development last night — which is how we roll here.

Now we will roll into the conference call on the matter, and are hoping that the head of the lucrative eBay payments unit will make an appearance, given that he does not start until next week.

One piece of advice I will extend Thompson: I would refrain from cursing, as previous Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz did on her first outing. (She was fired in September, although not precisely for the cussing she so enjoyed partaking in.)

Here we go!

7:02 am: It’s on, with Thompson present.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock begins, and he is “very excited, very excited.”

I’d be very excited if Thompson talked and not Roy, who has been to this particular Yahoo CEO rodeo a few too many times before.

Bostock is making promises that this time it’s going to be different. Really!

He also notes that the company will continue its “strategic review” — but who knows what that means now.

And he thanks Tim Morse, the interim CEO who is moving back to the CFO job. (Agreed — nice work, Tim!)

7:06 am: Scott Thompson is on and is “just thrilled” to be the new Yahoo CEO.

I like his accent, which seems like he might be from Boston. He does look and sound like Cliff Clavin, the mailman guy at the Beantown bar from the television classic “Cheers.”

Except, given he has been the darkest of dark horses in this CEO race, nobody knew Thompson’s name.

Thompson is saying all the right stuff, about wanting to increase shareholder value and such.

He sounds so hopeful! Urgency! Thoughtfulness! A bright new morning at Yahoo!

I have been to this rodeo before too, but I am still hoping this time it’ll work.

Scott, if you let me down, I might cry, because you sound so nice.

7:09 am Q&A time already.

Congrats from the Wall Street analyst peanut gallery.

Then, it’s right into a question for Bostock, about the progress of the Asian assets deal.

Also, is Thompson too much of a technologist and not a media dude?

Bostock wants to talk about only Scott, but notes that there will be “no slowdown and no delay” in the Asian process. And Thompson will be all onboard when he comes on board, folks.

Bostock sounds tired, but starts to talk about how a “great customer experience” is the key to the advertising business. He notes that Thompson knows how to do this, hence he’ll be fantastic.

“I have every expectation he’ll be out there calling on advertisers,” says Bostock. I would hope so, given that is where Yahoo makes most of its lettuce.

Bostock is saying Yahoo has been “treading water” and now needs to swim fast. Treading water? I wonder who the top honcho at Yahoo has been while the company has been listlessly dangling its legs in the drink?

Roy — that’s who!

7:15 am: Another analyst asks about margins.

Thompson is not having any of it! He is polite when asking for time to get on the job to make proper statements.

But he does focus on the need to build “great, innovative” products. True, but Yahoo has been incredibly unable to do this of late.

Thompson gives no specifics, though. My big idea: I would steal the self-driving car from Google.

7:17 am: A question about what the core of Yahoo is, and about what lessons Thompson is bringing from his experience at PayPal.

Well, he has not met the team — literally. Yahoo’s board consulted almost no one in the top ranks of execs on this appointment.

But Thompson “suspects” there is talent there. Given the recent attrition, he’ll need a big Inspector Clouseau magnifying glass to find it!

From eBay’s PayPal, he says that the key was balancing the customer experience with network effect and, well, blah, blah, blah Internet-speak.

I am still thinking shoplifting the self-driving car is the bestest idea.

7:20 am: A question about Yahoo’s display business versus Google.

Thompson notes it is too early for him to say — though he had better say soon! — but notes that data is key. He is a well-known by-the-numbers guy, and that is clearly where we are going at Yahoo, now that he is the big dog.

Thus:

“The data these Internet businesses create, the ability to use analytical technology to build a better businesses for your customers … I feel certain that wealth of data is going to be exploitable for next generation products, next generation experiences … My instinct says down in that data we’re going to be able to find ways to compete and innovate that the world hasn’t seen yet.”

I am really liking this accent, which is almost lulling. And so polite! Sources tell me that being “collaborative” was a big goal in this hiring.

7:22 am: A question about the identity of Yahoo, and whether it should be public or private.

Thompson harps on the need for innovation, and hopes it will be the future.

“I would not be here if I didn’t think it was possible,” says Thompson.

Bostock takes the public/private question. Yahoo will be public, he declares! Mostly, because it would be too pricey to take private.

“It’s a moot point,” he says.

7:25 am: More questions about what Yahoo is.

Thompson declines to run off the rails on this dicey one, but he says he believes that Yahoo has great assets.

It does. It’s just that it has been crashed many times — by the people who just hired him — right into a wall.

Just sayin’ — a self-driving car would have done a better job.

7:27 am: A brain-drain question, and more on Asia and on mobile.

Bostock butts in again. He said that Thompson will not be distracted by that, and will concentrate on the core business. Hush up, Roy.

Thompson says that he looks forward to meeting the peeps of Yahoo. (’Cuz he has not, as yet!)

He also loves mobile — which Yahoo has largely borked.

7:32 am: A content strategy question. Early days, so Thompson is still keeping his yap shut.

In this, he’s like the anti-Bartz. Is this good? It’s certainly different.

He says again that, “I can’t wait to meet” everyone at Yahoo. Vice versa, because this dude came from left field.

Thompson promises that he will be a “sponge.”

He closes by noting that he is “genuinely excited,” and says he believes in Yahoo.

Indeed, when it comes to Yahoo, you definitely gotta have faith.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work