Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), a leading global brand and one of the world's most trafficked Internet destinations, announced today that Carol Bartz, a veteran technology executive who was most recently Executive Chairman of Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), has been named Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors, effective immediately.
Prior to becoming Executive Chairman of Autodesk in 2006, Bartz, 60, led Autodesk as CEO for 14 years, transforming the company into a leader in computer-aided design software. During her tenure as CEO, revenues increased from less than $300 million to more than $1.5 billion, and the company's share price increased nearly ten-fold.
It takes two to tango and Carol Bartz will be Ballmer's counterpart in the dance called the MicroHoo soap. Last week Ballmer said it was time to strike a deal with Yahoo whilst both companies were in a management transition phase. 60 year old Bartz brings in a wealth of boardroom experience, but one can question if that's what Yahoo needs right now.
Bartz is a capable manager. She led Autodesk for 14 years between 1992 and 2006, keeping it from the PC software graveyard by focusing on CAD software for architects and builders. Autodesk, however, is an old-school software company. It is not exactly a great training ground for running an online advertising business attached to the most popular destinations on the Web. And as far as applications go, they are all Web apps and Yahoo gives them away for free.
I think Techcrunch has a point in questioning the suitability of this appointment, yet in the quote above I see no valid argumentation to support that question mark. Questioning the appointment would be the current lookout for both Yahoo and Microsoft.
I can understand Yahoo wanting a steady hand at the helm, a firm CEO with enough experience to take on Microsoft, but that would be a shortsighted deal. One way or the other Microsoft and Yahoo need to look beyond eachother and face Google in the coming net-war. With Microsoft bringing in the boardroom weight, Yahoo's chances would have been better with a visionary innovator, a charismatic passionate CEO, a young dog ready to take on Google where it hurts. If Bartz is strong enough to keep Ballmer at bay, Google will be the third dog walking away with the bone. They've already upped the ante in appointing former Yahoo genius Schachter yesterday and look primed and ready to face the MicroHoo challenge.