Carol Bartz named Yahoo! boss

January 14, 2009

, SAN FRANCISCO, January 14 – Veteran Silicon Valley executive Carol Bartz took over the helm of Yahoo! on Tuesday, vowing to revive the ailing Internet firm and calling on critics to give it room to breathe.

Bartz, 60, replaces Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang, who stepped down on November 18 after a rocky tenure as chief executive of the Sunnyvale, California, firm that lasted a little over a year.

"Let\’s give this company some frigging breathing room," Bartz said during a short conference call with reporters and analysts.

"It\’s been too crazy with everyone on the outside telling Yahoo! what it should and shouldn\’t do and what is best for them, and that is going to stop."

Yang, who founded Yahoo! in 1994 with Stanford University classmate David Filo, will remain at Yahoo! and the board said his "iconic stature in the industry makes him an invaluable resource."

While announcing an end to the search for a new CEO, Yahoo! revealed that president Sue Decker is resigning. Decker had been considered a contender for the CEO post.

Yahoo! board chairman Roy Bostock credited Bartz with "turning around" Autodesk while at the head of the computer-aided-design software firm.

"The bottom line is that Carol more than meets the criteria we set for the search and is the only person to whom we offered this job," Bostock said.

"Carol is a seasoned, decisive and highly-regarded executive. We are confident she is the right leader to get Yahoo! back on track."

Yahoo! has been outshined by Internet-search star Google and stumbling in the wake of a failed courtship with Microsoft, which offered last year to buy Yahoo! for nearly 47 billion dollars.

"Yahoo has unfortunately been battered in the past year and that has forced it to look internally and be protective," Bartz said.

"I think that is nonsense. We are going to focus on really getting outward looking and kick some butt."

Analyst Stowe Boyd, author of /Messages blog, said Bartz is strong-willed and her first moves are likely to include booting Yahoo! department heads.

"I expect a shake-up. There will be a lot of turmoil, cutting and reshuffling of responsibility very quickly," Boyd said.

Bartz\’s background in technology could signal she will favor divisions such as Yahoo!\’s search and email over "media" such as its online news operation, according to Boyd.

Bartz served as president, chairman and CEO of Autodesk from 1992 to April 2006 when she became executive chairman of the company, which is based in San Rafael, California, and has some 7,000 employees.

She formerly worked at Sun Microsystems Inc., Digital Equipment Corp., and 3M Corp. and sits on the boards of Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and NetApp.

Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said Bartz has her work cut out for her at Yahoo!.

"In a difficulty range of 1 to 10, this is an 11," he said. "If she is successful here, she will be a legend."

Bartz had her first meeting with Yahoo! department managers on Tuesday and said she plans a "deep dive" into the workings of the company while formulating a leadership strategy.

She dismissed criticism that Yahoo! needs to figure out whether it is a media company or a technology firm.

"I think that is a lot of nonsense," Bartz said. "I just see this company with enormous assets that, frankly, could use a little management."

She said she is glad Yang will remain to lend "invaluable" perspective and that the board will "jump-start" her Yahoo! education.

"I am eager to roll up my sleeves and get started," Bartz said. "I wouldn\’t have taken the job if I didn\’t think there is huge opportunity here."

Yahoo! has been losing ground on the Internet to companies such as Google, MySpace and Facebook and the economic slowdown has hurt the firm particularly hard as advertisers cut back on spending.

Yang\’s rejection of Microsoft\’s 33-dollar-a-share takeover bid was met with disapproval by many share-holders including billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who led a revolt against Yang and was eventually named to Yahoo!\’s board.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has said the software giant remains interested in acquiring Yahoo!\’s search business and analysts said Bartz\’s appointment could revive talks between the companies.

Adding to Yahoo!\’s woes last year was the rejection by US Justice Department anti-trust regulators of a proposed advertising partnership with Google.

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