Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz Gives Herself A Grade for Her First Year




It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost one year that Carol Bartz has taken the top position at Yahoo! She officially celebrates the one-year mark next week but is taking a look back at what was probably a whirlwind event no matter how much experience she brought to the table.

Bloomberg reports that Bartz recently gave herself an interesting grade for her performance for the year: a B-. Why is that interesting? It’s interesting to me because it seems to be pretty honest. It’s saying “Hey, I did OK and everything is OK but there is room for improvement.” I appreciate the honesty because she places herself precariously close to a C grade, which is just average. So what were Ms. Bartz’s own words?

Carol Bartz gives herself a B-minus in her first year as chief executive officer of Yahoo! Inc., saying she could have moved faster to reorganize the company and strike a Web-search agreement with Microsoft Corp.

“It was a little tougher internally than I think I had anticipated,” Bartz, 61, said in an interview at Yahoo’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. “I did move fast, but this is a big job.”

The Bloomberg article paints the picture of Bartz being dealt a ‘tough hand’ (does this writer also cover politics for them?) which can be perceived as the truth, an excuse or a combination of the two. You’ll have to make the call on that one. Her year though started with a lot of work to clean up that ‘tough hand’ which did include dismal economic conditions overall.

After becoming CEO, Bartz cut her staff by 5 percent, shuttered underperforming businesses such as the GeoCities Web- hosting site and installed her own management team.

Then she broke out the big pen for “boat loads” of fun in the Microsoft, bingahoo, Ya-bingaroo or (insert favorite name here) deal in July, which began the end of the era of Yahoo as a search engine. A partnership with Facebook was thrown in for good measure as well. Now the company is concentrating on its strengths and trying to reclaim its identity in a manner of speaking.

The company also has been hiring people for sales and engineering, tapping into the savings generated by its cost- cutting efforts.

“A very good company kind of got buried,” Bartz said. “It is coming out.”

Last year also saw some pretty dismal financial performance but Bartz is unapologetic which comes as no surprise. Despite these numbers the stock was up 38% for the year. Go figure.

Yahoo’s sales have fallen for four straight quarters, and its stock trailed the Nasdaq Composite Index in the past year.

“We came out of one of the worst climates ever,” Bartz said. “And if you look at growth of Fortune 500 companies, only being down 12 or 15 percent is damn good. I’m not going to apologize for our growth.”

Funny how being down 12-15 percent can be spun into a sentence that implies growth where there was none. Anyway, now that the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are fading fast, what does Bartz say is ahead for Yahoo?

Bartz said she plans to do more acquisitions this year, probably of less than $1 billion apiece. Potential targets include overseas companies and data-analytics businesses that help advertisers assess their results, she said.

Bartz said the company continues to improve its products, such as its home page and e-mail service, though she didn’t give specifics. Last year, Yahoo unveiled a new version of the home page, the site’s first major upgrade since 2006.

Yahoo is likely going to need to make some serious noise in the upcoming months to be heard above the din that is being made by Google and all the others in the Internet space. What do you think the upcoming year(s) have in store for them?

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com Heather Rast

    While I’m not close enough to all the issues to comment on what I perceive an appropriate performance grade would be, I appreciate the message she’s trying to convey.

    To your point, she’s may be precariously close to spinning some marketing fluff, perhaps at the precipice but not quite tipping over. She acknowledges that triage needed to take place first before major rehabilitative surgery could happen. That’s pretty honest, I imagine, with a floundering once-great company of that size.

    It will be really interesting to see what happens in the next year, and how those events are couched. Can we count on you to report? Thanks.
    .-= Heather Rast´s last blog ..Collaborative Disambiguity: Making Something Into Nothing =-.