Scott Thompson: I'm a person who enjoys complex
problems, swims around in the detail, a person with a tremendous
amount of energy and a natural curiosity to understand things that
inform good decisions, if not great decisions. A classic question I
have asked in my career is : That's a good idea, but how do we get
there from here? In my consulting days, I used to ask my team, how
can you imagine getting there? How can you get there quickly?
I also enjoy people a lot. And hopefully that will be the buzz
here as it was at PayPal. Not in a rah-rah-rah company way, but I
have a natural desire to interact with people, understand what they
do, understand what they struggle with. Unlike some people who
enjoy being in their office all day, I can't actually sit in my
office. At PayPal, I had a low-rise cube -- constant interaction
results in constant stimulus and creates a buzz about getting
So how does this translate to what it means for the business and
the display business and where it all goes? If you've spent time
covering us at PayPal, you know people said these guys are
different, they see the world differently, and the products they're
building are different. It's very innovative and as a result, very
disruptive. That's who we intend to be.
I say this, and some don't believe it, but I genuinely believe
we're in the early days on the internet and the impact it will have
on people's lives. And if you're a media company, a display
business that has 700 million people visiting its properties every
month, playing in a space that 's evolving so quickly, growing
fast, there's a chance to redefine yourself and recreate a really
big brand for consumers and advertisers in a way that could be very
compelling. What is it, Scott? you're going to ask. Just give me a
bit of time to do what I do best: interact with the team to come up
with a really compelling forward-looking plan.
So that 's who the heck I am.
Ad Age : When did you start talking to
Mr. Thompson: In November, I became part of the
process and began down the path of meeting with board members.
Ad Age : What does Yahoo need to do to
reinvigorate its core display business as Facebook and Google
continue to gain market share?
Mr. Thompson: I would love to outline our
strategy there, and the steps likely to be taken, but given that
we're six hours into it ... it's a very valuable question and one
I'll have an answer to and we'll have answers to, but it's
premature to jump into that right now. I would be giving only my
instinct and that 's really not fair. I understand that we need to
answer that question and quickly. Speed is important and so is
making certain I understand all the history to make sure the right
answer will come out fast.
Ad Age : You mentioned on the call this morning
that data will be a key to building better products for both
consumers and advertising customers. We've heard about how great
Yahoo's data is for a while, so can you give any insight into how
it will be used differently going forward?
Mr. Thompson: Thanks for catching that . I
think most people didn't get it or it went right by them. I think I
can tie the loop for you in a meaningful way if you bear with me.
At PayPal, we were able to create an unbelievably compelling
business because we used data to understand risk and fraud better
than anyone on earth. And that was the secret sauce. We had more
data than anyone else, better tools and models, and super smart
people who were challenged by the problem. It doesn't seem
glamorous, but that was the reason.
I am more than 100% convinced that there is the same opportunity
in the data that is the core of Yahoo's business. I don't know
exactly what that is right now but I am certain that the battle of
the next generation of internet businesses will be made up of who
has more data and who knows how to use it better than anyone else.
Naturally, then, I have a really keen interest in spending time
with people who understand that . I'm not talking about your
classic segmentation stuff. It's the segmentation of one and what
the data of one tells you about what to do next. That's
fascinating. If this business is going to be really successful five
years from now, we'll get this right better than anyone else. As a
result, the consumer experience will be better than anyone else's
and the advertiser ROI will be, too.
Ad Age : Yahoo has made recent moves to cut out
ad middleman in an effort to increase the value of its inventory.
Is that a strategy that will continue going forward?
Mr. Thompson: That's a bit too detailed of a
question to check in on today. I appreciate the importance of it,
but any response I give you would not be appropriate today. It's
one of those questions we can revisit in the near future.