New Interim CEO Levinsohn Tries To Rally Yahoos After Major Shakeup
It was a busy weekend for the Yahoo board. Former EVP of Americas and media guy Ross Levinsohn has taken the helm after Scott Thompson stepped down to end a 5-month tenure — including the last two weeks of uproar about incorrect educational information on his biography. Thompson is also reportedly battling thyroid cancer, which was said to have contributed “in part” to the departure.
Additionally, Fred Amoroso has taken the Chairman of the Board role, as Roy Bostock departed amid a significant shakeup that saw five board members step down in all, and three — nominated by activist investor Third Point — join in their place.
In a weekend memo to all Yahoos obtained by AllThingsD, Levinsohn outlined the changes and tried to get staffers focused after two weeks of distractions as resume-gate played out in public:
I want you to know that I am honored to lead this great company as interim Chief Executive Officer, and I accept that responsibility with enthusiasm and confidence for three reasons above all others: As I have said since I joined Yahoo in 2010, I believe in the tremendous strength and value of our brand, and in our relationship with our users and partners; I believe in the substantial organizational, operational and strategic progress we have made in recent months in spite of the internal and external challenges we have faced; and most of all, I believe with all my heart in all of you and your dedication to continuing to make this company great. What we achieve in this company is substantial on each and every day, on a scale rarely matched across the globe. I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this team.
Levinsohn joined Yahoo after having co-founded, and served as managing director of, Fuse Capital, an investment firm that focused on digital media and communications companies. Prior to that, he had been president of News Corporation’s Fox Interactive Media, where he ran the day-to-day business and managed strategy — including the acquisition of MySpace. He previously held senior management positions at AltaVista, CBS Sportsline and HBO.
Levinsohn’s media experience stands in marked contrast to that of Thompson, who was billed as more of a business turnaround expert. Neither Thompson or Carol Bartz boasted any media experience — something that would seem to be important to a company like Yahoo that derives most of its revenue from advertising revenues. Though Levinsohn is only interim CEO, reports indicate that he may be under consideration to keep the job long term.
The change is likely to be good for morale at Yahoo, as it brings the company out from under the cloud of controversy that has engulfed it in recent weeks. Thompson’s resume gaffe had been widely criticized by the rank and file, who wanted him to be dealt with like any other staffer who was found to have given incorrect information. The fact that he was forced out is likely to sit well with Yahoos, who are also likely to appreciate being managed by a media person who has been among their ranks since 2010.
Though Yahoo continues to operate one of the top internet properties, the company has struggled in recent years to keep up with developments in the space and maximize the value of its sites. In March, comScore ranked Yahoo sites third among Internet properties (behind Google and Microsoft but ahead of Facebook) with 175 million unique visitors. Under Thompson, the company recently laid off 2,000 employees.