The struggling Internet company has been without a permanent chief executive since early September, when it fired Carol Bartz after losing patience with her attempts to turn around the company during her 21/2 years on the job. Tim Morse, Yahoo's chief financial officer, has been interim chief executive since Bartz's ouster.
Thompson has served as president of PayPal, eBay's online payment service, since January 2008, according to his biography on eBay's website. He previously served as PayPal's senior vice president and chief technology officer.
Since Bartz's departure there has been considerable speculation about Yahoo's future. In November, Microsoft Corp. signed a nondisclosure agreement so that it could gain a seat at the negotiating table if Yahoo decides to sell part or all of its business. Microsoft unsuccessfully tried to buy Yahoo in 2008 for as much as $47.5 billion before walking away in frustration. Yahoo's stock is now worth less than half of Microsoft's last offer of $33 per share.
Two weeks ago, reports said that Yahoo was inching closer to selling most of its holdings in China and Japan in a proposed deal valued at about $17 billion.
It is believed that Yahoo has been looking to make some sort of move to satisfy frustrated shareholders, as its U.S. business has lost its luster as the company's website loses traffic and advertising revenue to Internet search leader Google Inc. and Facebook's social network.
While Yahoo's board has considered selling its Asian holdings, it has also reportedly pondered selling a 20 percent stake to buyout firms or even auctioning off the entire company.
It recently appeared that Yahoo's nine-member board was leaning toward selling a large stake to a group led by Silver Lake Partners for $16.60 per share or TPG Capital for $17.60 per share. But that idea reportedly didn't go over well with some of Yahoo's major shareholders, including hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb, who has been threatening to overthrow the company's board.