New Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s Turnaround Plan

Scott Thompson

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Three weeks after joining, new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson hosted his first quarterly earnings call today.He declined to get into specifics, but he outlined the general principles of his turnaround plan.

It all revolves around “balance” he said.

  • It needs to “balance” it’s approach to customers, which are both users and advertisers. 
  • Yahoo needs to “balance what we are,” said Thompson. He said Yahoo is a media company and a technology company. “We need to do both. We end the debate about which is more important. We must do both.”
  • Yahoo needs to balance “thoughtfulness with speed.” “I want to go fast,” he said. “I immerse myself in details, but I make decisions fast. We will bring speed back into the equation. That’s how we get into playing offence instead of defence.”
  • Yahoo needs to balance its capital allocation between products of today, tomorrow, and the distant future. Thompson said Yahoo should invest most of its money in today’s products, a “very signicant portion” toward products of tomorrow, and ” a small, but meaningful amount” on products that will come out more than a year from the present. He said Yahoo will be open to new business models as it strives to innovate.

Beyond “balance” Thompson is convinced that “data” will play a huge part in Yahoo’s turnaround.

He called data “Yahoo’s most undervalued asset” and said,  “I believe data will be the key component for driving innovation at Yahoo. It will be the cornerstone for creating new products and services.”

Thompson said Yahoo can use data to give users “uniquely releveant experiences,” something “nobody’s done yet on the Web.”

Prompted by an analyst, Thompson said that another component of Yahoo’s turnaround would be aquisitions. To paraphrase, he said:

I suspect that there will be places where we don’t ahve the technologies today or the capablities today. If we want to put forward these agendas quickly, we’ll have to be aggressive in the market. I’m relatively certain here that there will be things that interest us and fill in technology gaps we have today.