Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Exclusive: Yahoo Poised to Name CEO — With eBay’s PayPal Prez as Top Choice

According to sources close to the situation, Yahoo is poised to name a CEO, an announcement that could come as early as tomorrow.

Sources said the leading candidate likely to get the nod is a dark horse and someone who has not been named in previous reports (and not on my suggested lists!): PayPal President Scott Thompson, who runs eBay’s massive online payments unit.

While the situation could certainly change, the Yahoo board has definitely been moving aggressively of late to try to find a new leader for the Silicon Valley Internet giant.

The company fired its last CEO, Carol Bartz, in September; 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.

(Dear Scott, Nice to meet you. And thanks for the tip! FYI, it’s a juicy giveaway like that which feeds my insatiable quest to find out All Things Yahoo!)

More to come soon, I expect.

Yahoo, as usual, never got back to me on my query, although the much more cordial people at eBay politely declined to comment.

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle