Thompson may be out, but Yahoo still a mess

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson

Yahoo chief executive officer Scott Thompson, who has been caught in a resume gate, is leaving the company, reports AllThingsD. He is going to be replaced by Ross Levinsohn, who is currently global media head with the company, Kara Swisher adds. She also points to a settlement with activist investor Dan Loeb of ThirdPoint Capital. Thompson got into hot water after Loeb’s group reported that he didn’t really have a Computer Science engineering degree. Since then, pressure had mounted on him and the board.

Earlier this year when Thompson took over as the CEO of the company, I pointed out that all these figureheads don’t really solve the problems facing Yahoo. In my post I had pointed out:

The talent exodus is a one-way street — out of Yahoo. Good luck changing that, especially with a booming tech economy with well paying companies like Facebook and Zynga. The loss of web attention to other web services? A befuddling mobile strategy? Check, check! Still the same.

From that standpoint, nothing really has changed. Except for the company showing its fangs and suing Facebook for infringing on its patents. Writing at that time, I pointed out that “Yahoo is 17 years old and that is a long time in Internet years. It has missed two major shifts – social and mobile – and it doesn’t have much choice.”

That, unfortunately is Yahoo’s reality, regardless of who is in charge. I think even Loeb needs to come to terms with that – though I suspect Loeb’s understanding of technology and its cycles is as limited as my understanding of football.

However, there is one silver lining for startups in the Yahoo mess: incoming CEO, Levinsohn is an acquisition-happy kat. Levinsohn was behind some of the acquisitions made by News Corp.’s Fox Interactive division such as IGN, Photobucket and Newroo. It wouldn’t surprise me if he goes on an acquhire binge and snap up many of the startups that aren’t really gaining traction.

It would allow him to get some entrepreneurial talent and infuse some fresh thinking into the company. Will that be enough? I don’t think so, but what the hell, he should give it a shot. As first step, Levinsohn should team up with Heather Harde, who worked with him at Fox Interactive again.

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