by Tien Tzuo
Congratulations to Scott Thompson on being named the new CEO at Yahoo. Scott was one of Zuora’s inaugural board members, and has been a guiding force through our growth. He has helped our team focus on the big picture while providing positive energy or unvarnished feedback when we needed it most. And he did it all while turning PayPal into a payments powerhouse alongside the giants of Visa and MasterCard.
There’s no doubt that leading Yahoo is the biggest turnaround challenge in the Valley today. The company is clearly at a crossroads–and needs serious help. Yahoo needs two things right now: positive leadership for a team that’s been repeatedly beaten down, and critical analysis to build a cohesive strategy that the company, investors and customers can rally around. In my experience with Scott, he has those skills and then some.
Scott’s leadership was clear the first time we met. Zuora had just launched its first subscription billing product, and had a handful of SaaS customers including Marketo, Coremetrics, LiveOffice, Cloud9 and Box. We were looking for an outside board member and, still in the euphoria of just getting our company and product launched, we thought, why not go shoot for the moon and ask the leader of the company who revolutionized the online payments industry?
Looking back, I expected Scott to ignore my outreach, or at best punt me to an underling. To my surprise, he invited me to a meeting where his clear intention was, “How can I help?” I presented our bold vision, threw out 3-4 ideas and then snuck on at the end, “How about joining our board?” He loved our vision and never hesitated.
Scott’s been instrumental to Zuora to this day. I have so many great Scott stories, but I have one in particular that the Yahoo crew should know. As I said, we had some early success, and I was feeling pretty good about myself. Scott took me down a rung, saying, “This is all great, but you haven’t proven to anyone that YOU can make your team successful. That’s your job, and you’re on the hook.” It was one of those moments where the color of the world changes, and you can see a whole new path ahead. That’s the kind of leadership Scott can provide.
So to Scott, thank you for all you have done for Zuora. Thank you for always asking me about my family. Thank you for the three hour lunches and dinners to invest in our success. You have a huge challenge ahead of you, but I have no doubt that you are the right guy for the job.
To the Yahoo ecosystem, congratulations on getting a great leader. I expect we will see some great things from the Yahoo team.