Scott Thompson, the former head of eBay's PayPal online-purchase unit who briefly headed ailing Yahoo before leaving in May after the company began a probe of his college resume claims, has landed as CEO of ShopRunner, the would-be Amazon-killer online-retail group set up by GSI Commerce founder Michael Rubin's Kynetic group, based in Conshohocken.
"The appointment appears to be a significant demotion for Thompson," writes Bloomberg reporter Brad Stone here. Thompson met ShopRunner President Michael Golden through PayPal and told Stone he's attracted to ShopRunner's underdog struggle for online dominance.
Kynetic, which also owns the Fanatics online-sports group, which counts Comcast networks and ESPN among its clients, is partly owned by eBay, which bought GSI Commerce from Mitchell and shareholders for $2.5 billion last year.
Thompson says he's beaten the cancer he reported as a cause of leaving Yahoo three months ago. He had no comment on his departure other than to wish new Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer well.
Adds Bloomberg: "Thompson has his work cut out for him at ShopRunner. For a $79 annual membership fee, the service offers free two-day shipping (and free returns) on items purchased at the Web sites of participating stores such as Toys 'R' Us, GNC, Sports Authority, and Drugstore.com. The company... appears to be struggling to enlist larger merchants, such as Target, Macy’s, and Wal-Mart," but hopes to boost sales by offering multi-site package pickup via recent acquisition PickupPoint.
Here's the internal memo from ShopRunner President Michael Golden:
I have some important and exciting news and it is my great pleasure to share it with all of you. Later this morning we will be publicly announcing that former Yahoo CEO & PayPal President, Scott Thompson has been named the new CEO of ShopRunner.
I know this may be surprising news, but I want everyone to know that I am the happiest person of all about this. From the day Michael Rubin and I decided to create ShopRunner it has always been the plan to hire the right long-term CEO once it looked like ShopRunner could truly deliver on our objective of creating the best merchant network and signing up millions of members and focusing billions of dollars of their spend with our partners.
At this stage of our development we are more excited than we have ever have been about the future of our partnership and now is the absolute best time for us to put that person in place. The fact that we have been able to attract Scott in this role is great validation of the foundation we have built and the big opportunity that stands before us all.
I'd like to tell you all a bit about Scott. Most recently Scott was the CEO of Yahoo. Previously he was the president of PayPal with overall responsibility for growing global payment marketshare.
Scott turned PayPal into a massive force. Under his leadership, PayPal grew its user base from 50 million to 104 million active users across 190 countries and had over 8 million merchant partners in its network. Prior to being named president he also held positions as PayPal’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, overseeing information technology, product development, and PayPal’s architecture.
I met Scott for the first time nearly 3 years ago when Michael Rubin and I had dinner with him so that we could give him an overview of what our vision for ShopRunner was.
We hit it off from the very beginning. From that moment on it was clear that we truly shared a passion for building the premier retail network and then leveraging the strength of that network to create superior value propositions for consumers and help our partners, sell more things, to more people, more often. In that respect ShopRunner and PayPal have always seen this massive opportunity the same way. Most people give Scott meaningful credit for the last several years of PayPal’s unprecedented growth and innovation.
If we only achieve a fraction of PayPal's success, we will be hitting a grand slam for all of our members and our retail partners. Scott's passion, enthusiasm, work ethic, and management skills will take ShopRunner very quickly to the next level. He brings to the company a ton of learning from what has worked and not worked in a very similar business along with incredible industry relationships.
So the next question you are likely to ask, "What about Mike? Is he staying or leaving?” I am happy to say that I am 100% enthusiastically staying. I wouldn't dream of leaving at this point! I have never been involved with a start-up that had this much potential and I intend to do everything I can do to make the most of this opportunity for all of us.
I will become the President of the company and be as thrilled to work under Scott as I know all of you will be to work with him. I have already learned a ton from Scott and just working with him over the past few weeks to plan for his start, I have never been more energized and motivated to get to work in this new role.
This is a big day for the company and this is a company that has many, many big days ahead of it.
Most Sincerely, Mike