MediaFile

Is Scott Thompson the ‘back to basics’ guy Yahoo’s needed all along?

Yahoo has once again gone outside the company to breathe new life into the once-mighty Internet titan: Scott Thompson, most recently the president of eBay’s PayPal division, takes the helm on Monday, January 9th.

The four-month search ends the latest period of uncertainty for Yahoo, which has been struggling to regain its rightful place in the hearts and minds of the digerati — to say nothing of an indifferent Wall Street.

Investors have been sour on Yahoo for a while. The news of Thompson’s hiring was met with boos on NASDAQ, where Yahoo closed Wednesday at $15.78, down 51 cents. With a “fool me twice” attitude, potential will be no substitute for results. And given the spectacular flame out of former CEO Carol Bartz, investor patience must be wearing thin (if, that is, it still exists at all).

Thompson seems to be arriving with a clean slate and marching orders that give him a fairly free hand — “he will work closely with the Board as we continue the strategic review process to identify the best approaches for the Company and its shareholders.” Indeed, Thompson hadn’t even met with the top Yahoo executives, which I would take as a sign that his allegiance is entirely to the board.

That’s a good thing, because Thompson has his work cut out for him. Consider this reaction from Lawrence Haverty, a fund manager with GAMCO investors, which owns Yahoo shares.

Glimpses of Carol Bartz legacy in Yahoo’s rollout of expanded Facebook integration

Yahoo is expanding its Facebook “frictionless sharing” capabilities, letting users of its entertainment websites automatically broadcast their reading habits across Facebook’s social network.

Yahoo websites including Yahoo Movies, Yahoo TV and omg! – Yahoo’s celebrity gossip site – will now offer the type of Facebook integration that Yahoo introduced for Yahoo News earlier this year.

If you opt-in and choose to use the social sharing feature, every time you read an article on one of those websites, the name of the article and a link is instantly beamed into the newsfeed of all your Facebook friends.

Yahoo’s next CEO? Don’t ask Ross Levinsohn

It’s been more than a month since Yahoo fired Carol Bartz as Chief Executive, but there have been few signs indicating who might succeed her.

Ross Levinsohn, the head of Yahoo’s Americas business, is one insider that many think would be a natural choice. But if Levinsohn has any such aspirations, he didn’t let on when he took the stage at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco on Monday.

Asked point-blank by moderator John Battelle if he was interested in the top job, Levinsohn embarked on a long, rambling answer that managed to provide little information of value, while not explicitly taking himself out of the running.

Tech wrap: Oracle and HP keep sparring

Oracle and Autonomy escalated their war of words on Thursday, sparring publicly over whether the British software firm had ever been shopped to the U.S. technology giant.

Autonomy, which Hewlett-Packard this year agreed to buy for $12 billion, is at the center of a debate on Wall Street over the tenure of fired HP CEO Leo Apotheker and the future direction of the company he once ran. The spat comes at an inopportune time for HP, fighting to salvage its reputation with investors.

Entrepreneur, venture capitalist and HP board member, Marc Andreessen, referred to Oracle as an “oldline” software company and took a jab at outspoken CEO Larry Ellison: “Larry is one of my idols,” Andreessen said. “I wouldn’t quite say my role model.”

Maybe Carol Bartz should teach

Why not? With free time on her hands Carol Bartz should consider teaching high school math and science. Seriously. (Not in elementary school – the whole potty mouth thing won’t last there for long, and Bartz wouldn’t be Bartz without her salty swagger. But teenagers would love it.)

Now that she’s been ousted from her role as Yahoo’s CEO, I think the confessed math nerd should let her geek flag fly and inspire young people toward her favorite subject. And for girls in particular (and their parents), she has message: Stick to your guns.

About a year ago I asked Bartz if math was integral to her ascendancy to the CEO posts at Autodesk and Yahoo. Beyond my job a tech reporter, my reasons were selfish: my teen daughter has the math bug. I wanted to know if Bartz felt a well-used TI-83 graphing calculator was a vital weapon to carry if one aspired to business success.

Tech wrap: Facebook cashes in on ads

Facebook’s first-half revenue roughly doubled to $1.6 billion, underscoring the world’s largest social network’s appeal to advertisers, a source with knowledge of its financials told Reuters. Net income in the first half of 2011 came to almost $500 million, said the source, who wished to remain anonymous because privately-held Facebook does not disclose its results. Facebook’s stronger results come as investors have pushed its valuation to roughly $80 billion in private markets, with many industry observers expecting the world’s No. 1 Internet social network to go public in 2012.

Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock fired CEO Carol Bartz over the phone on Tuesday, ending a tumultuous tenure marked by stagnation and a rift with Chinese partner Alibaba. CFO Tim Morse will step in as interim CEO, and the company will search for a permanent leader to spearhead a battle in online advertising and content with rivals Google and Facebook. Some analysts said Bartz’s departure signaled the company had run out of options after failing to dominate the advertising and content markets and handing over its search operations to Microsoft.

Best Buy said it will offer products online from other sellers through a new third-party Marketplace as the electronics retailer tries to better compete with Internet rivals Amazon.com and eBay. Best Buy Marketplace will add roughly one-third more products online in time for the holiday shopping rush. Buy.com, Mambate, SF Planet, ANT Online, BeachAudio.com and Wayfair are the third-party sellers that signed up for the launch.

Tech wrap: FTC seen deepening Google probe

Google will receive the civil equivalent of a subpoena from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission as part of a probe into the Web giant’s Internet search business, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The FTC plans to send the civil investigative demand with a request for more information, the civil equivalent of a subpoena, within five days, according to the report. U.S. antitrust regulators have been concerned about Google’s dominance of the Web search industry, and the giant Internet company has been under investigation by the European Commission since last November.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop showed images of his company’s first phone running on the Windows phone OS. Codenamed “Sea Ray”, the phone appeared to be a near copy of Nokia’s N9 smartphone, unveiled earlier in the week.

The chairman of Yahoo voiced support for Chief Executive Carol Bartz, who has become a lightning rod for criticism as the company struggles with stagnant revenue growth and a rift with its Chinese partner. Yahoo’s efforts to mount a turnaround remain a work in progress, said Chairman Roy Bostock at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. But he said he was confident that the company was headed in the right direction and that Bartz had put Yahoo on a “clear path forward to accelerated revenue growth.”

Tech wrap: Yahoo’s CEO-in-waiting?

David Kenny, managing partner of VivaKi, poses for photographers during the Cannes Lions 2009 International Advertising Festival June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Alain Issock New Yahoo board member Akamai President David Kenny is the obvious choice to replace struggling CEO Carol Bartz, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Kara Swisher. Kenny is smooth and well-liked, has deep advertising experience, has a long relationship with Yahoo and its co-founder Jerry Yang and has tech cred as a leader of one of the Internet’s most important infrastructure companies, regularly in contact with media giants, ad networks and video providers that are Akamai’s clients, Swisher argues.

Microsoft explained the delay in updating its new phone software, partly blaming handset manufacturers for the problem. Microsoft’s JoeBelfiore did not name names, but said the company had started the update and ran into problems on some newly manufactured phones that would not function properly afterward. Samsung, HTC and LG Electronics are the main handset makers of Windows phones. A more comprehensive update, code-named Mango, will be available later this year, featuring performance bumps, live updates and applications that can run in the background while users move onto other programs, he said.

Russian hacker attacks on the country’s biggest blog site and a spy agency’s warning to Gmail and Skype have raised fears that authorities are tightening their grip on dissent in a China-like assault on free speech ahead of next year’s election, writes Thomas Grove. “This is a test drive during a very important year to see if it’s possible to close down websites, in particular social networking sites in case of demonstrations,” said Andrei Soldatov, head of the think-tank Agentura.ru.

Yahoo’s Carol Bartz: swearing is “honest” language

Bartz5

(Note: Strong language contained in quotes in paragraph 3)

By Sarah McBride

Famously salty-tongued Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says she is trying to cut down on the expletives she uses “because people make so much of it.”

She said her swearing was “honest” language used to make a point, and she considered it more acceptable than “dirty” or gratuitous swearing. If she were male, nobody would pay much attention to it, she told Reuters on the sidelines of the Women’s Conference in Long Beach, California. on Tuesday.

Bartz caught flak earlier this year for telling Michael Arrington, editor of the TechCrunch blog, to “fuck off” during a TechCrunch conference. Arrington had asked if her marketing pitch about Yahoo relative to Google was “BS.”  In a conference call with analysts last year, she spoke out about problems with the company’s management structure, saying that “nobody is fucking doing anything.”

Yahoo unfurls accordion to revamp search

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz once played in an accordion band, so perhaps it’s fitting that the ole squeezebox has figured in to Yahoo’s products as the central motif in a revamped Internet search experience.

Yahoo has unveiled a snazzy new search interface that lets users flip between a stack of vertical tabs to view different types of results. Search on the rapper Lil Wayne for example, and you can quickly tab between groups of results like albums, videos and Twitter messages.

YahooAccordion1The new search interface, which the tech blogs have nicknamed ‘the accordion’, represents Yahoo’s first big overhaul of its search product since partnering with Microsoft.