The latest news from Yahoo is its new CEO, former PayPal president Scott Thompson. The company’s last CEO, Carol Bartz, didn’t work out so well. And neither did the one before that. Or the one before that. Yahoo has changed CEOs so many times, it warranted a chart to keep track of it all in today’s Wall Street Journal (available after the jump). As you see in the graph, under Tim Koogle, the company reached a high, but he was ousted when it slumped. Yahoo hasn’t recovered to those high levels.
The WSJ charts the company’s problems over the years, detail about Thompson’s background, and how the company decided to appoint him. It also quotes Thompson, who says he wants Yahoo to be ”one of those great iconic brands.”
“We’ll be back to innovation and disruptive concepts,” it goes on to say.
That’s great and all, but then you have this story on MarketWatch that questions what exactly Yahoo is given the company’s decision to hire someone who doesn’t have a background in media. (The WSJ says his experience working with another successful company was his biggest selling point.)
Here’s where PR could do a lot of good for this company. Part of Thompson’s success will depend on his ability to instill confidence in investors and other corporate stakeholders. Getting things on track will require patience, something that investors are probably short on given such a long, down period. If they’re against him, he doesn’t stand a chance.
The MarketWatch story says investors are concerned that Thompson will get in the way of some potentially positive business deals. “For the last couple of years[...] the company has not been able to articulate a concise vision of whether it is a media company or a technology company. In the last few months, however, it has been describing itself as a digital media company and has been making more media deals.”
An experienced PR pro could help outline what Yahoo is in its current form and why Thompson is the best person to take the company to the next level.
The Street has a story with some positives in there that a comms team could build on in other media stories (Thompson himself is getting the ball rolling here) and in talking with investors and other parties about the company’s future.
In short, Yahoo’s public relations effort needs to concentrate on making people believe in the company. That sort of confidence doesn’t look like it’s going to be forthcoming otherwise.