Emerging Payments

Yahoo Names PayPal Co-Founder Max Levchin as Director

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Yahoo! Inc., the largest U.S. Web portal, appointed Yelp Inc. Chairman Max Levchin to its board, as Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer works to restore management stability and reverse three years of revenue declines.

Brad Smith, Intuit Inc.’s CEO, and David Kenny, former president of Akamai Technologies Inc., will step down from the board, effective immediately, leaving Yahoo with 11 directors, the company said in a statement today. Levchin is also co-founder of eBay Inc.’s PayPal unit and formerly vice president of engineering at Google Inc.

As Yahoo’s fifth CEO in four years, Mayer is trying give the company credibility after management changes and lost advertising revenue, as users migrated to Google and Facebook Inc. Yahoo’s share of display ads, including banners, will be 9.3 percent this year in the U.S., down from 11 percent last year, researcher EMarketer Inc. estimates.

“The transition on the Yahoo board has a lot to do with where Yahoo needs to focus,” said Jordan Rohan, analyst at Stifel Nicolaus & Co. Inc. in New York. “Max is really smart. He has great mobile and app knowledge.”

Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo has climbed 23 percent since Mayer, a former Google executive, was named CEO on July 16. The stock fell less than 1 percent to $19.35 at the close in New York.

Levchin, who started PayPal more than a decade ago with Peter Thiel, has plenty of management experience. He’s a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who sits on the boards of Kaggle Inc. and Evernote Corp. Levchin said he got a glimpse of the “fantastic future” of the Web during college in 1993, just as Yahoo was getting off the ground.

“Yahoo! showed me that computer geeks can start companies that create that future,” Levchin said in a blog post. “I’d love to do my part in helping the company that inspired me.”

Mayer said in the statement that she admired Levchin “throughout my career for his phenomenal sense for great products and keen focus on user experiences.”

“I’m confident that his strong product and technology expertise will be a tremendous asset to Yahoo!,” Mayer said in the statement.

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