Monday, October 3, 2011

Too Much Authenticity From ex-Yahoo!´s Carol Bartz

Everybody appreciates true authentici­ty, especially when displayed by CEOs. However the boarder line between being courageous and being immoderate is really thin. Especially for Carol Bartz (63). Her actions when splitting up with Yahoo! have shown that she generated more publicity about HOW she has left her CEO job there, rather than for what she has done over the last two and a half years in her role.

Breast cancer survivor Carol Bartz was always known for her blunt leadership style. She has always been a no nonsense. When she has learn that she is being fired by the Yahoo! board this September, she has dealt with this unexpected news in her own way. Even before completing her departure deal with the board, she was quick to announce to all Yahoo's 14,000 employees via an iPad email:  "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's Chairman of the Board (Roy Bostock). It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward. "

The firing of Bartz was messier than it needed to be. Several sources admitted that she was caught by surprise. In her first interview with Fortune since her dismissal, she was very direct to describe her situation: "These people f---ed me over." … On Tuesday, Bartz was in New York, to speak at Citigroup's (C) technology conference the next day, when she was supposed to call Roy Bostock at 6 p.m. "I called him at 6:06," she recalls. When he got on the line, she says, he started reading a lawyer's prepared statement to dismiss her."I said, 'Roy, I think that's a script,'" adding, "'Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?'"When Bostock finished reading, Bartz didn't argue—"I got it. I got it," she told the Yahoo chairman. "I thought you were classier," she added. Such kind of statements burn a lot of bridges and divide people into her fans or rather strict opponents.

Bartz is a seasoned executive, proud for what she has achieved, not wiling to be in any way manipulated. She often uses „salty“ language to express her blunt assessments. Reporters love her unforgettable bon mots – e.g. when she refered to Yahoo!'s board as a "bunch of doofuses“  or back in May 2010, when she became famous for her sharp response to aggressive interview attack of Michael Arrington, the internet tech blogger, when she used the „fuck off“ /you tube link/ words to calm him down.

Once Bartz said: "I have a belief that life isn't about balance, because balance is perfection ... Rather, it's about catching the ball before it hits the floor ." Now she entered a period of life to decide which ball she wants to catch up next. The couriosity stands around the question if she is going to learn to build bridges and gather fans.

Note:  According to Mashable: Yahoo, the No. 1 search engine early last decade and a product of the late 1990s dot-com boom, has in recent years lost ground to Google Inc. and been hurt by social-network firm Facebook Inc. Both are taking away market share in selling online graphical and video ads, a market in which Yahoo previously shone. The number of minutes that U.S. website visitors spend on Yahoo sites per month has dropped 33% since Ms. Bartz's arrival 2 ½ years ago, according to comScore Inc.  

Bartz, 63, never was able to articulate a strategy to win over investors. Despite being one of the pioneers in the online search business, Yahoo has seen its market share dwindle in recent times. Not only have the users turned to its rivals, advertisers have also been ditching the company. Research firm eMarketer has projected that Facebook will overtake Yahoo in online display advertising in the US this year. Analysts said a lack of focus and direction have hurt the company's image.

 A mother of three and a breast-cancer survivor, Ms. Bartz grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, where she was a high-school homecoming queen. She became a top executive at Sun Microsystems before becoming CEO of Autodesk Inc., which develops software for designers. In 14 years at Autodesk, she increased revenue and the share price. She stepped down in 2006 before being lured to Yahoo's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., three years later. "

Bartz Timeline according to Mercury News:


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