Wall Street: Yahoo Bad at Picking CEOs
Let's be honest: 2008 was a terrible year for Yahoo.
First came the offers from Microsoft, which were subsequently shot down by co-founder and CEO Jerry Yang along with his cohorts in management. Then, we saw the invasion of major shareholder Carl Icahn, who desperately wanted to see Yahoo sell to Microsoft. After a proxy battle that lasted several months, Icahn became a director and saw several of his nominees make the board, leaving him with a voice, but not a majority. Finally, after the deal with Google fell through, Yang felt it was time to throw in the towel, announcing he would vacate the CEO position as soon as a replacement was found.
Nearly two months after Yang announced his resignation, Yahoo is pointing out whom it feels is a suitable replacement. Who is the lucky lady? Carol Bartz. The former Autodesk CEO and Silicon Valley veteran is expected to respond to the offer quickly, although the answer is still unknown.
Bartz spent 14 years with Autodesk, and held the positions of chairman, president and CEO. While she left the company in 2006, she still maintains the executive chairman position. Bartz also served on the board of Sun Microsystems, and still calls the boards of Cisco and Intel home.
While many would consider hiring a staple of the tech industry an advantage, the market has reacted negatively to the news thus far, with Yahoo stocks falling as much as 3.5 percent today. While she has seen time with some of Silicon Valley's biggest names, Autodesk is a drafting and design software maker, not an Internet media company. "I think the market may be a little bit disappointed that Yahoo's not going with someone who isn't a little bit more savvy when it comes to technology and media," said Signal Hill analyst Todd Greenwald.
The appointment of Bartz could lead to a new offer from Microsoft, according to several analysts. "I think Yahoo probably needed a CEO who was going to favor this deal," said Sandeep Aggrawal, an analyst at Collins Stewart.
Is this CEO choice just the latest in a slew of bad decisions? Or is Carol Bartz the light at the end of the tunnel for the once dominant, but now struggling Internet icon? If Bartz takes the position, the next six to twelve months will be interesting to say the least. If she declines the offer, News Corporation COO Peter Chernin and former Vodafone exec Arun Sarin are those many consider to be front runners for the position.