04:07 pm - Friday 29 May 2015

Carol Bartz tried to return Yahoo! to former glory

By staff - Wed Sep 07, 8:19 am

SAN FRANCISCO: Carol Bartz, fired after two and a half years at the helm of Yahoo!, struggled to revive the Internet pioneer but failed to raise its languishing share price during her rocky tenure.

The no-nonsense Silicon Valley veteran overhauled the management team at Yahoo! shortly after taking over as CEO in January 2009 on a four-year contract and drastically cut costs with several rounds of layoffs.

She also negotiated an Internet search deal with Microsoft in a strategic shift away from the Sunnyvale, California-based company’s online search roots and began transforming Yahoo! into a venue for personalized content.

At a recent shareholders meeting, Bartz insisted she was leading a focused effort to transform Yahoo! into “a premier digital media company” serving up online offerings tailored to the tastes of its 680 million users worldwide.

But the moves failed to excite investors, and her tenure was overshadowed by a public fight with the Alibaba Group, in which Yahoo! owns a 43 percent stake, over Alipay, a leading online payments platform in China.

Bartz’s most notable move during her tenure was the search and advertising partnership forged with Microsoft in a bid to take on search leader Google.

But the agreement, under which Yahoo! uses Microsoft’s search engine while providing the global sales force for premium advertisers, failed to convince Yahoo!’s board of directors that she could turn the company around.

Bartz, 62, had previously served as the chief executive at 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.

The 2D and 3D design software firm grew from 285 million dollars a year when Bartz took over to 1.52 billion dollars a year in 2006, when she stepped aside.

Before joining Autodesk, Bartz, who also served on President George W. Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, worked at Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment Corp. and 3M Corp.

A University of Wisconsin graduate with an honors degree in computer science, Bartz also holds honorary degrees from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and William Woods University.

She has long been one of the most visible women in Silicon Valley.

In 2005, she was named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Business” by Fortune magazine and one of “50 Women to Watch” by The Wall Street Journal. That same year, Barron’s named her one of “The World’s 30 Most Respected CEOs.”

“Those who know me know that I am a straight-shooter,” Bartz said upon taking the helm of Yahoo! in 2009. “My focus is on turning this company around. I would not be here if I didn’t think these objectives were achievable.”

She struck a more resigned tone on Tuesday in an email to employees following her dismissal. “I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board,” the message said.

“It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.”

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