A MYSTERY IN SUNNYVALE: Who The Heck Hired Scott Thompson?

Scott Thompson

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After it fired Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s board hired an executive search firm, Heidrick & Struggles, to help it find a new CEO. Heidrick & Struggles is a very well respected search firm. It brought Tim Cook to Apple, for example.

It turns out Heidrick & Struggles did not bring Yahoo’s new CEO, Scott Thompson, to the company.

A source familiar with the situation tells us Heidrick & Struggles recruited Thompson into eBay, the last place he worked before Yahoo. This barred the Heidrick from hiring Thompson into somewhere else.

So whose hire was Thompson?

This is where things get murky. We’ll try to sort it out, but much of what follows should be read as scuttlebutt (because that’s what it is, really).

A source close to the Yahoo board tells us he was recruited by board member Patti Hart, who led the board’s search committee.

Others say Thompson was recruited heavily by now-departed Yahoo board member Jerry Yang.

One source tells us that in the first few days after Thompson joined Yahoo, Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang was telling everyone that Thompson was “my guy.”

Another source, this one close to some of the private equity firms still talking to Yahoo about some kind of transaction, told us that the general impression in Silicon Valley was that “Scott was a “comfortable” choice for Jerry.”

“The implication being that he wasn’t going to be pushing back a lot – that Jerry was going to run things from afar.”

We’ve heard reports that Scott Thompson was stunned – maybe even a little shaken – to learn last week that Yang was suddenly stepping down from Yahoo’s board. Maybe now we know why.