Yahoo names new CEO

In 2009 women still lag behind in math, science and technology. That being said, it is great to see that at the onset of a New Year another women has been named CEO for Yahoo.

We hope that this trend will continue throughout the year. Read below an article from the Globe and Mail about Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz as its new chief executive.

Best Nicole

January 13, 2009 at 5:09 PM EST

SAN FRANCISCO — Yahoo Inc. confirms that it has hired Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz as its new chief executive.

The decision ends a two-month search to replace Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

His short reign as CEO was marred by his refusal to sell Yahoo to Microsoft for US$47.5 billion — about $30-billion (U.S.) more than Yahoo is worth now.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company would be luring Ms. Bartz, 60, from Autodesk Inc., which specializes in making design software for architects and engineers. Ms. Bartz was the San Rafael, Calif.-based company’s CEO from 1992 until 2006, when she stepped aside to become executive chairman.

Ms. Bartz’s appointment could set the stage for Microsoft to renew its efforts to buy Yahoo’s Internet search operations as a way of mounting a more serious threat to Google, the market leader. Microsoft had been reluctant to deal with Mr. Yang because he rebuffed several previous overtures, including a $47.5-billion offer to buy Yahoo in its entirety last May.

Microsoft subsequently withdrew that bid, valued at $33 a share, and now Yahoo’s stock price hovers around $12. Mr. Yang had hoped to placate shareholders by using Google’s superior technology to sell some of the ads alongside Yahoo’s search results, but that idea unravelled in November after federal antitrust regulators threatened to block the deal.

Investors didn’t seem convinced Yahoo would be better off with Ms. Bartz. Yahoo shares fell 27 cents to $11.95 in Tuesday afternoon’s trading.

Ms. Bartz’s track record indicates she likely would act quickly to build upon Yahoo’s strengths while doing her best to shed the weaknesses.

“She is able to see the essence of things because she doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about how people are going to feel,” said Nilofer Merchant, a former Autodesk manager who is now CEO of technology consultant Rubicon. “She is driven by doing the best thing for the business.”

Under Ms. Bartz’s leadership, Autodesk’s annual revenue has ballooned from $285-million to $2.2-billion. Perhaps more importantly to Yahoo’s long-suffering shareholders, Autodesk’s stock price rose by an annual average of nearly 20 per cent during Ms. Bartz’s stint as CEO, beating the 10.6 per cent annual average for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Ms. Bartz had established her management chops before joining Autodesk. She spent nine years at Sun Microsystems Inc., where she eventually became the No. 2 executive behind the server maker’s then-CEO, Scott McNealy.

Despite Ms. Bartz’s resume, she will likely face questions about whether she is a good fit at Yahoo because she lacks any background in advertising – the primary source of Yahoo’s income.

Yahoo also is far larger than Autodesk, with annual revenue of more than $7-billion and roughly 13,000 employees, nearly twice the size of Autodesk’s work force.

As one of the first women to run a technology company, Ms. Bartz is used to being underestimated. Even after she had been Autodesk’s CEO for years, some of her male counterparts occasionally mistook her for an administrative assistant while she was attending industry conferences.

Before graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1971 with a degree in computer science, Ms. Bartz was a cheerleader, homecoming queen and a cocktail waitress – a job that helped pay her college tuition.

In her corporate life, Ms. Bartz talks more like a sailor, said Mr. Merchant, who recalls Ms. Bartz starting days with profanity-laced phone calls demanding to know why a sale hadn’t been closed. After dressing down a worker, Ms. Bartz usually found a way to end the conversation on an encouraging note. “She always wanted to make sure the job got done,” Mr. Merchant said.

Ms. Bartz hasn’t hesitated to get rid of employees incapable of executing her strategy. Within six months of taking over at Autodesk, she had purged its management ranks.

If Yahoo turns its search operations over to Microsoft, many analysts expect the company to lay off thousands of workers to save money. As it is, Yahoo just dumped 1,500 workers to help shore up its profits during the recession. The company also has lost many top managers during the past two years as Yahoo’s malaise worsened.

Yahoo’s decision to bring in an outsider could alienate its president, Susan Decker, who also was a candidate for the CEO job. Ms. Decker’s close ties to Mr. Yang and Yahoo’s previous CEO, Terry Semel, probably worked against her, because her appointment wouldn’t have appeased shareholders clamouring for a shake-up.

Ms. Decker, though, already has a working relationship with Ms. Bartz because both women sit on the board of chip maker Intel Corp.

Ms. Bartz also would have to coexist with Mr. Yang, who will revert to his titular role of “chief Yahoo” while remaining on the company’s board. Those two also share a boardroom together as directors at Internet gear maker Cisco Systems Inc.

This wouldn’t be Ms. Bartz’s first daunting challenge. When Autodesk hired her in CEO in 1992, the company was facing a shareholder revolt amid concerns that Autodesk was overly dependent on a single software product that accounted for nearly all of its revenue. Now, Autodesk offers an array of design software as well as computer programs that help add special effects to movies and TV shows.

To compound her initial problems at Autodesk, Ms. Bartz was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after taking the job. She had a mastectomy and was back in the office in four weeks.


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