Yahoo taps Thompson as CEO

Exec served as prexy of PayPal

Yahoo has named Scott Thompson, prexy of eBay’s PayPal division, as its new CEO, the fourth in less than five years for the struggling Internet company.

Yahoo, which announced its choice Wednesday, has been without a permanent CEO since early September. It fired Carol Bartz after losing patience with her attempts to turn around the company during her 2 1/2 years on the job.

Tim Morse, Yahoo’s chief financial officer, has been interim CEO since Bartz’s ouster.

Thompson has served as prexy of PayPal, eBay’s online payment service, since January 2008. He was previously PayPal’s senior VP and chief technology officer.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo said Thompson’s new job starts Jan. 9. Morse will return to his CFO post.

Yahoo chairman Roy Bostock said Thompson’s track record of building on existing resources “to reignite innovation and drive growth” is “precisely the formula we need at Yahoo.”

It will be a big task. Yahoo has been losing ground in the fast-growing Internet advertising market to Google and Facebook for years. Mainly for this reason, its stock price has not topped $20 for the past three years.

Yahoo’s board has been reviewing a possible sale of all or part of the company since Bartz’s ouster last fall. There are several potential suitors, including China’s Alibaba Group, which may join up with private equity firms in a joint bid.

Bartz, too, was hired to help turn Yahoo around but she had no experience in Internet advertising — Yahoo’s main revenue source. This immediately raised doubts about her qualifications.

Yahoo shares closed down 51¢, or 3.1%, to $15.78 on Wednesday.