New Yahoo CEO Talks Content, Disruption

8:00 AM PST 01/04/2012 by Georg Szalai

Scott Thompson says that he must learn more about the company's content efforts and that "Yahoo's future depends on its ability to create great products," while its chairman says Yahoo wants to remain a public company.

NEW YORK - He may not have a content background, but content will continue to be a focus for Yahoo, new CEO Scott Thompson signaled in a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Wednesday.

But he asked for more time to evaluate the current content and content acquisition strategy. Thompson said that it is early days, and he will need to learn more about the firm's content business and efforts in the near future and how to potentially improve the firm's strategy. He added that he can't wait to meet the content executives and vowed to be like a sponge to learn from them.

He also mentioned Yahoo's previously stated goal of being the premier digital media company, but said he wants to also make "disruption" and innovation core values at the company. Referencing his technology background, Thompson said "excellent" technology and content are both needed at Yahoo - not just one or the other.

But the new CEO spent much of his time discussing customer experience, technology and other issues. Among other things, he said Yahoo should be able to find in its usage data ideas for innovation.

What was his experience as PayPal president that is most relevant to his new role at Yahoo? Thompson said it was the balancing of consumer needs and experiences with merchant needs and experiences. "That balancing is what we need to have here at Yahoo," he said. Content and a great user experience will play important roles in that process, he added.

During the conference call, Thompson also promised that he would focus on delivering growth in revenue and other key metrics, developing "great next-generation products" and ensuring the company reaches Internet users on new devices.

"Yahoo's future depends on its ability to create great products" and provide a "great experience that fully engages our users," Thompson told analysts. This will help Yahoo deepen user engagement, he added.

But he also emphasized that the company mainly needs to operate better rather than completely rebuild its business. The core business assets of Yahoo are "stronger" than people believe, Thompson said. 

Chairman Roy Bostock faced a question about why Yahoo's board picked a technology-focused rather than a media- and content-focused top executive. Providing a great customer experience and experience for partners is "what Yahoo needs to do," he said. "The key to success in advertising is providing a great customer experience. That's where it all starts."

He highlighted that Thompson has experience with providing such great product experiences, as well as personal skills, which will allow him to work with the many executives at the company, and shareholder focus.

Bostock echoed that Thompson's job would be to take a business with existing strong assets that has been treading water and make it "start swimming at a very fast cliff." Bostock pointed to the new CEO's track record at PayPal where he cemented the firm's position and performance.

Bostock on Wednesday also said that he doesn't envision Yahoo going private and said a continuing strategic review will continue at pace with Thompson on board, with an update expected "at a later time."

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai

 

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