Yahoo has officially named former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz as its new CEO. Rumors of the appointment surfaced earlier today in the online edition of the Wall Street Journal.
In choosing Bartz, the embattled Web portal gains an accomplished tech CEO who, in addition to her 16-year stint at Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), was previously an executive at Sun Microsystems. Bartz also now sits on the boards of both Cisco Systems and Intel. It’s a small world in the Valley: Jerry Yang, Yahoo’s outgoing CEO and co-founder, is also a Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) board member, while Susan Decker, Yahoo’s president, is on Intel’s (NASDAQ: INTC) board.
Decker, however, won’t be sticking around Yahoo for much longer. She had been considered a finalist for the CEO spot as well, but today, Yahoo said Decker had submitted her resignation and will leave the company after assisting during a transitional period.
Critics of Bartz’s candidacy for the position have noted her lack of experience in running an Internet company, with what’s seen as faster pace of product and service introductions versus traditional software firms like Autodesk.
But longtime Silicon Valley watcher Tim Bajarin thinks Bartz is a good choice.
“There’s no question she has to work with a market where immediacy is an issue. But she’s a very smart person with strong leadership skills and that’s what Yahoo needs, someone who can quickly grasp the company’s potential and execute on it,” Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told InternetNews.com. “When she joined Autodesk, the company was in turmoil, its strategy was all over the map. She forced more focus and got them back to their core capabilities.”
And if Bartz isn’t an Internet visionary, she’ll be joining a company with plenty of new ideas already. In just the past year, Yahoo has revamped its home page, re-architected its popular e-mail service and open sourced its search engine infrastructure for other companies to build on. Whether those moves pay off may well be more a matter of execution than vision per se.
Bartz would be the second outsider brought in to run the company since its founding by Yang and David Filo. Media exec Terry Semel, who left the company in 2007, was a high-profile failure at a time Yahoo had been percolating with potential.
“What we all thought would happen was that Yahoo would combine its search and media capabilities and create something like Hulu,” Bajarin said. “Yahoo could have been the media channel for the Internet, but it didn’t happen.”
With Yang under fire for botching a proposed sale to Microsoft for $31 per share, Yahoo announced in November that it would be looking for a new CEO. Yang was part of the search effort and said he had planned to continue on in the position of “Chief Yahoo” once his replacement is named.
Yang reiterated those plans to stay with Yahoo.
[cob:Special_Report]”I believe Carol is the ideal person to take Yahoo forward and I will be honored to be a resource to assist her in any way she finds helpful,” the outgoing CEO said in a statement. “I believe Yahoo!’s best years are still ahead of it. For the past 14 years, I have poured all of my energies into this great company — and I hope to keep contributing to its success for many years to come.”
Update reflects official confirmation of Bartz appointment to the CEO post and information on Sue Decker resigning as president.