We’re still confirming the news with Yahoo but AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher is reporting that as of tomorrow, Scott Thompson will be leaving his role as CEO of Yahoo, and getting replaced, on an interim basis, by Ross Levinsohn, currently the global media head. Update: Thompson’s now officially out and Levinsohn’s in. Read the updated report here.
Thompson’s position has been mired in controversy since news broke the other week that he had lied about his qualifications — and that situation seemed to be going from bad to worse as the company failed to act on the news in any significant way — and Thompson remained in control. Some may even find the method in which he is finally going unsatisfactory: the company will apparently cite “personal reasons” for his departure, according to AllThingsD.
Levinsohn, currently still the global media head overseeing advertising across all of Yahoo, had previously been the head of Yahoo’s Americas unit, a position he had held from November 2010.
On paper, he is much closer to Yahoo’s core business operations than Thompson, who came to Yahoo from his past role as head of PayPal: in addition to the advertising experience, Levinsohn’s background includes three years as MD of Fuse Capital, a media/tech investment firm; and before that he put in time at News Corp as the head of Fox Interactive Media — the company’s big push into digital that included MySpace, their mobile business and other digital efforts, some $1 billion in acquisitions in all.
Yahoo’s content business has downsized significantly as the company has streamlined operations — for example, Thompson announced the closure of some 50 properties in April — but there are still some significant opportunities there that, if Levinsohn really does come into the role and stays for more than the blink of an eye, you can see him working to tease out.
Back in September 2011, Levinsohn noted that News was Yahoo’s biggest property and that it was seeing traffic of 40 billion pageviews across all of its properties, with six billion of those on news. The key, he said at the time, was to monetize that traffic better by getting people to spend more time on Yahoo’s sites. He didn’t rule out closer relationships with other online content companies like Hulu as one route to getting those minutes spent on Yahoo’s sites up.
Swisher’s report also mentions that Daniel Loeb, the activist shareholder from Third Point who has been clamoring for board changes at the company, is also set for some potential vindication: she writes that he is set to get three board seats, including media executive Michael Wolf and “turnaround specialist” Harry Wilson — who are set to join as five current Yahoo directors step down with immediate effect. New director Fred Amoroso, who has been investigating issues raised by Loeb, will be named chairman of the board, she writes. Note: none of this has yet been confirmed with Yahoo directly yet.