Now that Scott Thompson, 53, has been elected as Yahoo's new CEO as well as a director, here are a couple of items the technology savvy accountant needs to take care of fast:
Determine the most valuable sites and services. In his debut call with investors, Thompson said he's a huge Yahoo fan. I start on some Yahoo site in the morning, he said Wednesday.
Which ones? How about Yahoo News? Yahoo Sports? Yahoo Finance? These are among the most popular of the subcategories of the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based search engine and media company which attracts 700 million monthly users.
Some of the statistical and advertising work has been done already by Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co., hired after the strategic review started after former CEO Carol Bartz was fired last Labor Day.
Thompson needs to figure out what's best and what doesn't work.
Determine what new services work best for Yahoo in 2012. Yahoo, which Thompson noted is iconic, has been around since 1994 and went public in 1996.
What new services can it add? Thompson indicated that it can add a lot more in the mobile sector, especially with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets. Google, which is a lot bigger, developed the Android Operating System for portable platforms and plans to complete its $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility soon.
Does a new Yahoo need to do something similar? Besides mobile, what else will Yahoo offer in TV, online media and other things to compete against Apple (with Safari), Amazon, with Kindle and Kindle Fire and Amazon Prime, and other services?
Figure out the Microsoft relationship. After Yahoo rebuffed a 2008 takeover by Microsoft, the software giant took over a lot of the mechanics for search even as it launched its rival service, Bing.
How will that work out under a new CEO? Could Yahoo get rights to Windows OS8 for tablets and smartphones as it becomes available later in 2012? How about other links to Microsoft's MSN?
Handle the minority investments in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan. Yahoo owns about 44 percent of Alibaba Group, China's top online payment company, as well as about a quarter of Yahoo Japan, a legacy of the old Yahoo investment from SoftBank.
Chairman Roy Bostock said a team will handle this, but Thompson, with his background in online processing from Visa and eBay's PayPal, understands the sector. Perhaps Yahoo can unload the Alibaba stake and keep a relationship, especially because Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang was born in Taiwan and is a hero in China.
Figure out how much it will cost to restore the brand. Yahoo was the first well-known search engine in the early Internet era that saw many other entrants, such as Lycos, Inktomi and AltaVista. Then it was largely overtaken by Google, which has had consistent management from the outset and a determined strategy.
Brands can be rebuilt. Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock has the ad background for that. The company reported cash and investments of $2.87 billion in the third quarter of 2011. Surely some of that can be used to unleash a marketing campaign to rebuild the brand.
Thompson, who did a bang-up job at PayPal, will start work next week at company valued around $19.5 billion. Let's see what the value will be a year from now.