Less than one week after making a significant announcement at CES related to its new connected TV platform, Yahoo! appears to be about to follow up with a another blockbuster, planning to name Carol Bartz, former Autodesk CEO, as its new CEO according to multiple published reports.
Bartz is a solid and safe choice that will be an easy sell to the board and Wall Street. From her days at Autodesk, she is known as a fair and honest leader who is skilled at bringing diverse engineering and product groups together for a common goal. As a former VP of marketing at Sun during its halcyon days, she was instrumental in helping grow the company into a billion-dollar-plus giant. Bartz is a leader for tough times, having fought through numerous brand and product reinventions not to mention economic climate changes. According to her profile in Management CV, Bartz’s primary skill is her “ability to bridge the creative chaos of cutting edge software development with the necessary management structure and operations process to create an efficient but entrepreneurial corporate culture.” Sounds like a strength that plays to Yahoo’s current weakness.
At the same time, Bartz is not a Silicon Valley insider nor is she someone who brings a lot of Web experience to Yahoo!, but there’s plenty of that to go around at the once iconic Web portal. What the company lacks is a firm business leader that can instill confidence in Wall Street, major partners, advertisers as well as Yahoo! employees. Yahoo! is no doubt looking for someone who brings the sort of leadership skills lacking since Tim Koogle left the company in 2001 to pursue new ventures. Is Bartz’s Yahoo!’s counter to Eric Schmidt who brought “adult supervision” to the Serge and Larry show? Only time will tell.
Beyond all the empirical evidence, Bartz is a courageous person who overcame serious health issues and has stated publicly she considers her role as mother to be among her most important. At age 60, she’s no young Turk, but 60 is the new 40. That is if you have the goods to back it up, and Bartz may have the goods to turn Yahoo! around.