January 05, 2012, 11:26 AM — Incoming Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson hasn't even started his new job yet and already the rumors are flying.
Actually, it's not a rumor, more of a suggestion by an analyst appearing on CNBC Wednesday -- soon after Yahoo announced Thompson would replace fired CEO Carol Bartz -- that it might "make a lot of sense" if Yahoo were to buy embattled streaming and DVD-by-mail company Netflix.
The comments by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster -- who basically was musing aloud on TV (video below) -- caused shares of Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) to soar 11.4% on Wednesday. Look, the guy on TV said something! Call my broker!
Netflix is up another 1.1% on Thursday to 81.30, the stock's first time above $80 a share since November 17. (Last year was a rough one for Netflix, if you recall.)
Meanwhile, shares of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) -- the strategy-challenged company Thompson is supposed to save -- fell 3.1% on Wednesday and were down another 1.3% early Thursday to 15.58.
Apparently Wall Street's doubts that Thompson -- the well-regarded president of PayPal who nonetheless has no media background and has never been a CEO -- can turn around an Internet pioneer that has lost its way competitively are growing by the hour.
For good reason, and let's be frank: Thompson wasn't chosen because he was the obvious candidate for the job. Bartz was fired in early September. It took Yahoo nearly four months to find a replacement. This is Yahoo -- struggling, but still an online giant -- and the board apparently couldn't attract a current CEO from another large media and content company.
This is eerily reminiscent of when Yahoo hired Bartz, who was a highly regarded CEO of design software vendor Autodesk, in January 2009. Back then, just as now with Thompson, there were plenty of insight-free "can she turn it around?" articles about Bartz and her prospects at Yahoo.
We saw what happened. The person with no Internet experience couldn't articulate -- never mind formulate -- a coherent strategy for competing in the social age with Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.
I've been hard on Bartz before, but the fact is she was the wrong person for the job. That's not her fault. That's on the board of directors.