Photo: Flickr/Kevin Krejci
Yahoo just held a conference call to introduce its new CEO, Scott Thompson, the former president of PayPal.What we hoped to find out is how a guy who has zero media, content or advertising experience is expected to turn around a company that makes ALL of its money through media, content, and advertising.
What we learned was that while Thompson respects a certain part of Yahoo’s mission to make it a premiere digital media company, he views Yahoo as a technology company with “disruption” and “innovation” at its core.
Yahoo is about creating “great experiences” for users, he says. Which is kind of vague.
10:01 – Roy Bostock and Scott Thompson are on the call.
10:01 – Roy says he’s pleased and excited. He’s quoting this line from the press release: “Under [Thompson’s] leadership, PayPal solidified its lead as the global online payment service, expanding its user base from 50 million to more than 104 million active users in 190 countries worldwide, increasing the number of merchant partners to more than 8 million globally, and growing revenues from $1.8 billion to $4+ billion in 2011.”
10:03 – Roy says Scott will bring more engaged and more energized employees.
10:04 – Roy says the comprehensive review of Yahoo’s options regarding some sort of large transaction is on-going. (Meaning that this move does not take the Alibaba deal off the table.) Roy thanks Tim Morse, Yahoo’s interim CEO. He’ll return to his job as CFO.
10:06 – Scott says he’s very excited to join the call and “just thrilled” to join Yahoo. He calls the company an industry icon.
10:07 – Scott: “Yahoo’s core business is creating great experiences for users.” “Excellent technology and content, not one or the other.”
10:08 – He says he’s eager to work with engineers, product teams, and sales people. No word about content creators.
10:09 – We have our first analyst question. Or two, actually. 1) Will this delay the Alibaba deal? 2) Why hire someone who is just a technologist, not a turnaround specialist?
10:11 – Roy answers the first question: there will be no slow down. The second: “Scott has proven that he knows how to create great customer experiences,” which is key to advertising, which is key to the turnaround. Roy says Scott will be calling on advertisers.
10:13 – You can call this a turnaround, says Roy, but it’s about taking existing strong assets and building on them. He says Scott took PayPal from $1.8bn business to $4bn business.
10:14 – Analyst wants to know what Yahoo’s value proposition to users is. Good one! Scott’s answer: “The reason why these Internet businesses can be spectacular is if you build great innovative products that the customer enjoys and comes back and enjoys, that’s what you have to do to build great businesses on the Internet. What we need to do, is at the core, that’s how all this works.” Errr…
10:14 – Yahoo needs to build great products, is how I would paraphrase that one.
10:17 – Scott on the Yahoo org: Yahoo has respected talent. I think the truth is, I’m coming in with high expectations, and I suspect there is more talent than that.
10:19 – I think Scott just said something about the power of network effects.
10:20 – Doug Anmuth wants to know how Yahoo can compete with Facebook and Google in display. Scott says “it’s too early for me to have any informed opinion on the display space and what’s happening there and what’s happening next.” He says Yahoo will innovate based on its ability to analyse data.
10:22 – Should Yahoo be a private company or public company?
10:22 – “What I want and what I expect is Yahoo will be back to innovation, will be back to disruption. That will be the identity of the business yet again”
10:24 – Roy says we’re going to be a public company.
10:25 – Do you think there needs to be revolutionary change or just become more efficient?
10:25 – Scott: “I think you’re going to have to give me a little time on this. Any instinct I have at this point is just that.” He says the core assets are strong. 700 million uniques. World class technology. Data. Great brand that people know and respect and like.
10:28 – Will Yahoo’s current executive team stay in place?
10:29 – “All I can do is speak from my track record. People determine success or failure of all these businesses. If you have that core belief, then all the talent we have in the organisation, I want to make sure they are here tomorrow and a month from tomorrow. I hope that everybody in Yahoo today says boy we’re glad this guy is here.”
10:31 – Scott says Yahoo mobile is very important. “We will be great across all devices. When they want some piece of information the Yahoo experience will be the first place they go.”
10:33 – What does Scott think of Yahoo’s content strategy? “I don’t have anything good to say about content acquisition and how we might improve that strategy. Again, just a little bit of time is what I’d ask you for. Clearly there are resources in the organisation who make that a priority. I’ll be a sponge as it relates to those things I don’t know.”
10:34 – Scott’s closing remarks: “I’m genuinely excited to be here. I would not have come if I didn’t believe…”