Scott Thompson Joins ShopRunner as CEO: Um, I Guess Everyone Deserves Another Chance?

By Sarah Lacy , written on July 23, 2012

From The News Desk

If you ever have a day where you feel like you just epicly screw up. Where you feel like you couldn't have botched things more if you tried. Where you feel like the world has joined in the chorus calling for your head. Where you feel like you want to crawl under your bed and never come out. If you ever have a day like that think of Scott Thompson. He has just become your patron saint. Because the former embattled Yahoo CEO has just proven that nearly anyone can get a second chance.

ShopRunner has named Thompson its new CEO in a move that stunned much of the industry. Former CEO and co-founder (who now moves to president) Mike Golden seemed to anticipate this writing in an email to friends and partners of the company this morning, "I know this may be surprising news, but I want everyone to know that I am the happiest person of all about this." Not as happy as Thompson, I imagine.

Golden also described Thompson as the right "long term" CEO for the company. More from his email:

"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. "

ShopRunner is an interesting company and it will be interesting to see what Thompson does with it. He has no doubt learned a lot of what not to do from his disastrous and short term at Yahoo.

As I've said before, Yahoo does have a special knack for making most people who take that job look inept. I talked to the ShopRunner team a few months ago when it purchased ShopSanity. Thompson had just been named as Yahoo's CEO, and ShopRunner's COO Mark Menell is good friends with him so we chatted about his prospects. As they told me then, they had a lot of confidence in his abilities.

All snarkiness aside, you have to give ShopRunner credit for giving him another shot if they believe he's the right candidate, and not just bowing to what will certainly be some public pressure of "what were you guys thinking?"