According to news out today from the Wall Street Journal, Carol Bartz, the former CEO (and current executive chairman) of software company Autodesk, will be named the new Yahoo CEO. Bartz has been praised for her management and deal brokering skills but has never run an internet company, nor does she have an advertising background. General reaction seems to be mixed.
Bartz’s background has led some to speculate that she will simply be a transitional figure to restart talks with Microsoft, which said it was interested in new discussions with Yahoo once a new CEO was in place. However, Microsoft has also indicated it’s not interested in an outright acquisition anymore. Rather the company wants to buy the search/paid search business from Yahoo with revenue guarantees.
But bisecting search and display could be a strategic mistake for Yahoo. That’s what the company previously itself indicated in declining Microsoft’s later offer to buy the search business after the initial acquisition talks had failed.
If Bartz is a CEO for the long term she may want to install some of “her own people” in the executive ranks. I don’t know Bartz and don’t know whether she’d be inclined to do that. However another reorg or shake-up at Yahoo would potentially lead to more distraction for a company that has suffered much distraction over the past year. There’s a good deal of speculation going on regarding whether current Yahoo President Sue Decker, who serves with Bartz on Intel’s board, will stay or go.
Hopefully for Yahoo Bartz is up to the challenges she’ll face in getting the number two search player back on track.
Update: Here’s the Yahoo press release confirming the appointment of Bartz as CEO and Sue Decker’s departure from the company after a transition.
Notes from the short conference call (just completed):
Yahoo Board Chairman Bostock:
Bartz was the only person who was offered the CEO role. We’re confident she’s the right person for the job.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz (mostly verbatim quotes):
My focus is on turning the company around and creating value for employees and shareholders. I wouldn’t have taken the job if I didn’t believe there was a huge opportunity here.
I see this company as a company with enormous assets that frankly could use a little management.
On “media vs. tech”: I think that’s a lot of nonsense. I have a little brain power to learn what it takes to understand media. There are people here who can jump start my education.
We’re going to focus on being best in our markets (whether geographic or vertical). We’re going to get outward looking, get out there and kick some butt.
There have been too many people on the outside giving Yahoo advice, what to do, what not to do. That’s going to stop; let’s give this company some friggin’ breathing room.
For related discussion, see here on Techmeme.