Can Yahoo’s new CEO really end the media vs. tech debate?

Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson

Yahoo’s (s YHOO) newly appointed CEO Scott Thompson may have only been on the job for three weeks, but he has already made one thing very clear: The discussion over whether Yahoo is a media or tech company must come to an end.
In a call with analysts and investors to discuss Yahoo’s latest earnings results, Thompson held back from making definitive statements on many issues — but in regards to the media vs. tech discussion, he minced no words:

“Our media leadership is imperative, and we have and will continue to develop best-in-class products, engineering, and technology. We must end the debate about which is more important: We are a media company and a tech company. We must do both. End of the discussion… There’s a longstanding debate within the company, but we better be darn good at both. In fact, we need to be great at both when it’s all said and done. We are going to stop this debate.”

Thompson’s stance is interesting, especially in a world where many successful tech companies are claiming to focus on specialization, not diversification — with Facebook and Twitter being two of the most high-profile examples. It’s also a bit puzzling, as Thompson also stated that he would be “very aggressive” in evaluating which parts of the business Yahoo should let go in the weeks and months ahead, saying:

“We will get speed back into the equation and move aggressively. To me that is how we get to playing offense from playing defense.”

Can Yahoo really focus on both technology and media while making the cuts necessary to regain its edge as a leader in either field? Only time will tell, of course. But from the looks of it, with co-founder Jerry Yang’s recent departure and Yahoo’s stock lagging in the middle of its 52-week range at $15.60 per share, many people aren’t exactly optimistic.
Image of Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson courtesy of Flickr user YodelAnecdotal.