AGENCY EXEC: I Met Yahoo’s New CEO, And I Don’t Understand Why The Board Hired Him

scott thompson

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Almost all of Yahoo’s revenues come from selling advertising, mostly brand advertising. So, during his first three weeks on the job, new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson has spent a good amount of his time introducing himself to the people who spend billions of dollars on all that advertising: agency executives.

We jumped on the phone with one of these agency execs and asked what he or she thought of the new guy.

This executive, who asked to remain anonymous in order to be more candid about a person he or she will have to work with in the future, was pretty blunt.

This exec said: “I would like to know what the Yahoo board was looking for that this guy is the answer. Because I just don’t understand.”

This exec’s primary complaint is that Thompson has spent most of his career on the product development side of the tech industry and he has exactly zero experience in media or advertising.

“He doesn’t really know the company. He thinks there’s opportunity but was not specific about it. I think he doesn’t even really grok what business Yahoo is in.”

In this person’s view, Yahoo didn’t need an executive with product development experience as CEO because “there is very little that is wrong with the Yahoo product.”

“Maybe a year ago they had product problems, but [Yahoo product boss] Blake [Irving] has done a great amount of work and what Yahoo has in the product pipeline is more compelling than another other media company.”

In this person’s view, what Yahoo needed to grow its revenues again was a CEO who can “better position” the company’s various advertising offerings to agencies. After meeting with Thompson, this source said that could be a problem for Yahoo’s new CEO. 

“He is not really familiar with the kinds of sensitivities in the agency business. This is a very relationship heavy industry and I don’t know if he’s best equipped for that. “

The good news about Thompson, in this person’s view, is that he is “a high productivity individual” who is “likely to move fast;” any early mistakes he makes, he will probably quickly correct.

The very good news about Yahoo, in this person’s view, is that cofounder Jerry Yang is out of the picture and some of the company’s longer tenured board members will soon follow.

“With Jerry’s departure, it opens [Thompson] up for a lot more interesting strategic opportunities that wouldn’t have been considered while Jerry was there. [The same goes for] The shuffling of folks from the board.”

We’ve asked Yahoo if we could interview Thompson, but PR reps say he is in a heads-down mode, and not talking to the press.

More on Thompson’s arrival:

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson Lays Out His Guiding Principles For The Turnaround

Next For Yahoo: Layoffs, Ecommerce Aquisitions, Board Departures

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