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Yahoo Appoints PayPal Boss Scott Thompson As CEO

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

Troubled Internet company Yahoo ends its five month wait for a new leader

Yahoo has ended its search for a CEO by appointing the current boss of eBay’s PayPal subsidiary Scott Thompson to the post.

The internet company had been without a chief executive since September 2011, but speculation had been mounting that it was close to appointing a replacement, with Thompson the front runner, according to the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D blog.

“Cloddish” board wants a tech success

Yahoo’s board, which All Things D describes as “cloddish” when it comes to tech, wants a tech expert with consumer experience at a Silicon Valley firm and Thompson (pictured) fits that bill, having served as CTO before being appointed CEO of PayPal by eBay chief John Donahoe.

Once an Internet leader, Yahoo has been drifting since Google’s rise to prominence in the search engine arena and has failed to compete with Facebook in social media. It has been up for sale, with potential buyers including Microsoft,  Google and Chinese Internet company Alibaba.

Thompson’s brief is to sort out Yahoo’s strategy, according to Roy Bostock, chairman of the board, who said a strategic review would “identify the best approaches for the company and its shareholders”. In a statement, Bostock said there was a “wide range of opportunities for the company’s business”, which included “specific investments or dispositions of assets”.

“Clearly, speed is important but we will attack both the opportunity ahead and the competitive challenges with an appropriate balance of urgency and thoughtfulness,” said Thompson’s statement.

Previously, Yahoo rejected a a $44.6 billion (£28.2bn) offer from Microsoft in 2008 after Yahoo founder Jerry Yang managed to fight the bid off  – a result Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer later called a  “lucky escape.”

However, in 2009, the two companies agreed a ten-year search and advertising deal for Microsoft’s Bing search engine to power Yahoo’s search. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s board replaced Yang as CEO with Carol Bartz (pictured), but then sacked her by phone in September.

eBay has widely been seen as a success story, and a source of good CEO material. The firm’s Meg Whitman went to HP to replace sacked Leo Apotheker in September. One of Whitman’s claims to fame at eBay was the purchase of PayPal, which did a lot to make financial transactions on the auction site more reliable.