Regardless of the various interpretations about how and why it ended up at the decision, it looks fairly certain that Yahoo will benefit by putting a big huge nerd like Scott Thompson at its helm. That's what makes the news that the PayPal president will take over as the company's new CEO so interesting. Beyond former CEO Carol Bartz leaving the company in a storm of expletives and embarrassment, Yahoo is in need of a fresh start and has been "looking to hire someone with deep tech experience at a large public consumer Internet company in Silicon Valley," writes Kara Swisher at AllThingsD who broke the news late Tuesday night. With a list of three-letter job titles like CIO and CTO, Scott Thompson looks like he's got the resume to fit the bill. Plus, in Swisher's words, Thompson is a "dark horse" and "a genuine Internet geek."
Dark horse is a sort of funny term to use to describe Thompson, but geek is not. With a bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from a small private college in Massachusetts, he's not your standard Stanford-educated Silicon Valley executive. He's spent much of his career on the tech side of financial firms having spent much of his career at Visa and its various subsidiaries. Thompson also worked at Barclays Global Investors. He's been at PayPal since 2005 having served as the company's chief technology officer before taking over as president, but since PayPal's part of the eBay universe, he's not unfamiliar with what it takes to lead one of the world's largest technology companies. ZDNet's Larry Dignan thinks it just the pedigree Yahoo needs, if not for the nuts and bolts of his experience and Yahoo's need to return to the cutting edge of technology, then for what his appointment could mean for disenchanted staffers' attitudes. Dignan lists "Morale" as one of the company's biggest challenges moving forward, pointing the Thompson as the right solution. "Thompson is a real geek," Dignan says. "Is that enough to rev up the Yahoo troops? Yahoo employees have been through a lot. They’ve had media execs as CEOs, geeks and odd ducks dropping F-bombs everywhere."
Dignan's assessment meshes with the company's official line pretty well. "Scott brings to Yahoo! a proven record of building on a solid foundation of existing assets and resources to reignite innovation and drive growth, precisely the formula we need at Yahoo," said Roy Bostock, Chairman of the Yahoo's board said in a Wednesday morning press release. "His deep understanding of online businesses combined with his team building and operational capabilities will restore the energy, focus, and momentum necessary to grow the core business and deliver increased value for our shareholders. The search committee and the entire Board concluded that he is the right leader to return the core business to a path of robust growth and industry-leading innovation." Thompson himself weighed in with a calming sounding series of quotes. Chief among them: "With the ultimate goal of delivering the value our shareholders expect, my immediate focus will be on getting to know the entire team and hearing more from all Yahoo's, working closely with the engineers and product teams," the new CEO said in a statement, "And diving deeply into our products and services to learn more about what our more than 700 million users find most engaging and useful."
We can't wait to learn more about Scott Thompson -- he seems like a nice guy! We've already stalked him on Facebook. By the way, he just Liked Yahoo (and Kickstarter) as Swisher points out. And while there's not a ton more public information on Thompson's profile, his very nerdy family photo is somehow very encouraging, in that dorky dad sort of way: