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Tall task ahead for Yahoo's new CEO

SAN FRANCISCO — As president of eBay's PayPal unit, Scott Thompson used an eye for detail and a push into mobile payments to more than double revenue and boost the user base to more than 100 million. He'll face a bigger challenge as the new chief executive of Yahoo, a post he was named to Wednesday.

Thompson, 54, must lure users and advertisers back to a company besieged by declining sales and shrinking market share.

Thompson, whose past jobs include overseeing global technology for Visa, is an accountant and engineer who helped turn PayPal's online payments into eBay's fastest-growing business. Still, he may lack the advertising chops needed to reverse fortunes at Yahoo, once the largest Internet search provider, now an also-ran in search behind Google and a laggard in social media to Facebook.

"He's not a proven media executive," said Clayton Moran, an analyst at Benchmark Co. "Yahoo is an advertising-driven business. So I'm a bit surprised that they again went outside the industry to tap a new leader."

Thompson, who joins the company Monday, steps in after a failed turnaround effort by former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz, who was fired in September after less than three years at the helm.

In an interview Wednesday, Thompson said he enjoys working through complex problems and breaking down the challenges to be tackled. Yahoo already has plenty of folks with experience in fields such as advertising, he said.

"My job is to leverage all of that talent, experience that exists in the organization already," he said. "I know there are some things we need to change and fix, and I love it. I think that's part of what attracted me to come here."

Thompson said his priorities at Yahoo are boosting revenue and putting the company at the forefront of innovation. Yahoo will turn its attention increasingly to mobile devices, such as tablet computers and smartphones, Thompson said. Rivals such as Facebook and Google likewise aim to take advantage of the shift to mobile computing.

"I just won't rest until we've positioned this business and start to succeed," Thompson said.

Tall task ahead for Yahoo's new CEO 01/05/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 5, 2012 10:40pm]
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