Bartz wants 'breathing room' for Yahoo

Incoming CEO says company should 'kick some butt' — but first she needs to set a new plan

Yahoo Inc. has been pushed around by outsiders and needs to chart its own course, incoming CEO Carol Bartz said Tuesday, though she hasn't yet determined what that course should be.

"More than anything, let's give this company some friggin' breathing room," Bartz told reporters during a conference call. "It's been too crazy, everybody on the outside deciding what Yahoo should do, shouldn't do, what's best for them. That's gonna stop."

Bartz took over Yahoo on Tuesday after a year of turmoil in which the company spent much of its time immersed in management upheavals and ultimately fruitless negotiations over possible buyouts or other deals with Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. The company's management — particularly outgoing CEO Jerry Yang, who announced in November that he planned to step down — has come under fire for letting opportunities pass by before its stock price plunged along with the wider market in the second half of the year.

Bartz, a former CEO of software vendor Autodesk Inc., declined to tell reporters what direction Yahoo should take, saying she needs to first talk with employees, customers and investors to find out more about the company. She wouldn't say how long that would take.

"Let's not put ourselves on some crazy timeline, let's let this process evolve," she said.

Bartz did say that Yahoo should focus on being the best company in all the markets in which it competes, and that it should create new markets, both geographic and vertical.

"Yahoo has unfortunately been battered in the last year, and [this] caused it to look internally and be protective, and that's nonsense for such a great company and such a great franchise," Bartz said. The company should now "get outward-looking and kick some butt," she added.

The Yahoo board approached her about the job in December, Bartz said, and she was excited to jump in.

"I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't believe there's a huge opportunity here," she said. "I just see this company as a company with enormous assets that, frankly, could use a little management."

Roy Bostock, chairman of Yahoo's board, thanked Yang as well as outgoing President Sue Decker, saying Decker would help to make a smooth transition and Yang would remain "actively involved" with the company. Yahoo had said previously that Yang would reassume his former title of "Chief Yahoo" once a successor is found and also remain on the company's board.

Bartz said she expected to take advantage of Yang's insights. "No one knows more about Yahoo than Jerry," she said.

Bartz may have more to say about the company's direction when she speaks on Yahoo's conference call about its fourth-quarter financial results, which are scheduled to be announced Jan. 27.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

7 inconvenient truths about the hybrid work trend
Shop Tech Products at Amazon