Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz dismissed the idea she wasn’t ready to lead an Internet company and said instead that she’s ready to “kick some butt.”
The comments came during a conference call today that announced her appointment — and gave her a chance to come out swinging at naysayers.
While credited with a turnaround during her earlier tenure as CEO of design software company Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK), Bartz faced criticism as her name surfaced even as a possible candidate for the top spot at Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO). Prior to Autodesk, Bartz was also an executive at Sun Microsystems, and now sits on the boards of both Cisco Systems and Intel.
But she said that lacking experience in search and online media doesn’t mean she can’t perform her new job.
“I didn’t know CAD before I came to Autodesk; I didn’t know workstations before I joined Sun,” she said. “I believe there are fantastic people here and on the board to jumpstart my education. I know technology.”
Bartz’s selection came following an executive search that kicked off in November, when Yahoo said it would begin seeking a replacement for Jerry Yang, the company’s co-founder. Yang said he would step down after a year of turmoil for Yahoo that saw it both botch a proposed sale to Microsoft for $31 per share and fail to secure a subsequent advertising deal with Google.
[cob:Pull_Quote]Yang had been part of the search effort and said he had planned to continue on in the position of “Chief Yahoo” now that Bartz has joined Yahoo.
As for his replacement, Bartz said that until now, she’s really only known the company from the outside and was looking forward to meeting the staff. In fact, she was heading into her first management meeting immediately after the conference call.
Yahoo first approached her last month, Bartz said. She decided to take the CEO post because, “it’s a company with enormous assets that frankly could use a little management help. I love the fact that it’s a great company for the long run.”
During the call, Bartz didn’t mince words, conveying the tone of an executive prepared to make hard decisions — if not hurried ones.
“Let’s give this company some friggin’ breathing room,” she said. “Everyone telling us what’s best to do. That’s got to stop.”
Bartz also said she hopes to end the negative portrayals of Yahoo. While admitting Yahoo’s taken its fair share of hits in the past year, she said the view that the company is a failure is “nonsense for such a great company.”
She added that Yahoo needs to focus on its key markets and stay forward-looking.
“This isn’t about me coming in with some little vision, but a big vision for a big, great company,” she said.
While Bartz didn’t specify how long it might take for her to have an impact at Yahoo, she said she is going to take a while to get to know the company and the employees.
“I’m very good at listening and digging around,” she said. “I don’t expect it to take an extraordinary amount of time. But this is a big, complex company, and I need time to give them time to hear their issues, what their dream and hopes are.”
Yahoo’s chairman, Roy Bostock, said in a statement that the company’s board “is united in its view that her energetic and decisive leadership style, coupled with a proven track record of driving growth, operational excellence and shareholder value, is exactly what Yahoo! needs to get back on a path toward achieving its full potential.”