Yahoo Taps PayPal President To Be Its New CEO

Scott Thompson, 54, has a tough job waiting for him at Yahoo. The company has been struggling to find its way as Google, Apple and Facebook surge ahead. Yahoo fired Carol Bartz as its CEO in September after losing patience with her attempts to turn around the company.

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Four months after firing its CEO, Yahoo has a new leader. Scott Thompson comes from eBay, where he ran PayPal - the system people use for purchases online. Now, he faces a turnaround job, as NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: The Internet giant that pioneered a lot of what's cool on the Web has been struggling for a long time. And while Yahoo still has more than 700 million users, its ad revenues are falling, while Facebook's and Google's are rising.

SHAR VANBOSKIRK: I think Yahoo just needs some clear focus to go after whatever it is.

KAUFMAN: Shar VanBoskirk is an analyst at Forrester Research. She says leadership and direction have been in short supply at the company.

VANBOSKIRK: Yahoo's problem is it can't decide if it's a media company, a market research company, a technology company or a data company.

KAUFMAN: And there are personnel problems too, says analyst Rob Enderle.

ROB ENDERLE: Morale is very low. There are mismatches of employees leftover from different initiatives. It's kind of a mess. Though it does have a very strong brand, it has one of the strongest brands on the Internet.

KAUFMAN: Incoming CEO Thompson says, the company's core assets are stronger than people believe. In addition to the well-known brand, he cites sophisticated technology and access to reams of data.

The choice of the New England native surprised many observers. Thompson has no media background, no experience in online advertising, and no experience reviving struggling companies.

Again, analyst Shar VanBoskirk.

VANBOSKIRK: I always think that people take jobs like this because to turn a company around is a pretty great accomplishment. I don't think it's an impossible situation. What I expect we'll see is some sales. I expect we'll see Yahoo selling off parts of their business.

KAUFMAN: One of those sales may well be the company's 40 percent interest in Alibaba. The Chinese search engine giant has been trying to get out from under Yahoo for some time. And many analysts had been advocating a sale long before now. Scott Thompson starts his new job as Yahoo CEO next week.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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