Thompson brings tech background to Yahoo

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Yahoo had stepped outside the Internet industry with Bartz, a former CEO of design and engineering software company Autodesk Inc., and with Semel, who had come from Warner Bros.

Having a leader with a technology and Internet background could help.

Or at least it’s something different.

“If you try to determine what makes for a successful Internet company, I think having a strong tech DNA is important,” Sebastian said, pointing to the differences between tech-focused Google and media-oriented Yahoo.

“Companies that have more of a marketing foundation can’t adapt as quickly,” he added. “Competing online is a constantly moving target. You have to have a strong tech foundation to be successful.”

Yahoo has been criticized for being slow to adapt to behavioral changes on the Internet. Its email service and sections devoted to general news, sports, finance and entertainment are still popular, but people using those services aren’t sticking around as long as they once did.

In social networking, Yahoo has nothing comparable to Facebook or even Google’s new Plus service. Its strategy has been to tie its services to Facebook rather than operate its own social-networking destination.

Thompson’s leadership style will likely be a contrast to Bartz‘s. A self-described “straight shooter,” Bartz vowed less than an hour after she was hired in 2009 to make sure the company gets some “friggin’ breathing room” so it can “kick some butt.”

Thompson, meanwhile, is more of a “collegial leader” who manages through consensus.

“Employees of PayPal liked working for him,” Sebastian said. “From that perspective, (he’s) something Yahoo could use a little bit of now.”

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AP Technology Writer Michael Liedtke in San Francisco contributed to this story.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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