Yahoo confirms Bartz in as new CEO

Update: Former Autodesk exec will replace Yahoo's Jerry Yang, possibly take over Microsoft talks

Yahoo Inc. confirmed late this afternoon that Carol Bartz, executive chairman of the board of Autodesk Inc., is the new CEO of the online company.

Bartz will immediately step into her new role as CEO and a member of Yahoo's board of directors, according to the company.

"We are very excited to have Carol Bartz leading Yahoo into its next era of growth. She is the exact combination of seasoned technology executive and savvy leader that the board was looking for, and we are thrilled to have attracted such a world-class talent to Yahoo," said Roy Bostock, chairman of Yahoo's board, in a statement. "She is admired in [Silicon] Valley, as well as on Wall Street, for her deep management expertise, strong customer orientation, excellent people skills, and firm understanding of the challenges facing our industry. Carol meets all of the criteria we set for the search and is the only person to whom we offered the job."

Bartz is replacing former CEO Jerry Yang. Yang stepped down last November after the failure of buyout talks with Microsoft Corp., the breakdown of an online advertising deal with Google Inc., and two rounds of layoffs. Yahoo was quick to announce that it had begun searching for a new leader.

"The company has accomplished a great deal in its relatively short history, and I look forward to working together to take it to the next level," said Bartz in a statement. "There is no denying that Yahoo has faced enormous challenges over the last year, but I believe there is now an extraordinary opportunity to create value for our shareholders and new possibilities for our customers, partners and employees. We will seize that opportunity."

Yang, a Yahoo co-founder who had been CEO since June 2007, will re-assume his former title of "chief yahoo" and remain on the company's board.

The company also announced that President Sue Decker, who had been a candidate for the CEO position, has resigned and will leave the company after a transitional period. Decker worked at Yahoo for eight and a half years and was a close supporter of Yang.

Bartz was president and CEO of Autodesk, a CAD software and services company, for 14 years before stepping down in 2006. Previously, she was an executive at Sun Microsystems Inc., Digital Equipment Corp. and 3M Corp.

"Bartz is the definition of 'adult management' and has shown herself to be able to grow companies through both good and bad times," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc. "While she was at Autodesk, revenue multiplied by five times. She doesn't have any experience that is directly applicable to Yahoo, working mainly with tangible products. I actually believe this will be a benefit to the company. She will bring a forceful pragmatism that I believe is missing at Yahoo. I see her as a force that can change the culture at Yahoo, focusing the company's efforts."

Olds also noted that with Bartz on board at Yahoo, talks between Yahoo and Microsoft could be renewed.

"I would expect her to take a hard look at a potential deal and evaluate it on its business merits," he added. "This is a contrast with previous management, where you had the feeling that they were much more interested in remaining independent from Microsoft at all costs."

Juan Carlos Perez of the IDG News Service contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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