|Bartz in happier days|
As Yahoo continues its swirl down the bowl of failed web ventures, they've just fired CEO Carol Bartz. We realize Yahoo is desperate, but what on earth were they thinking when they hired Carol?
Bartz was known as a successful exec at Autodesk, a large software company that serves technically oriented businesses, but remains virtually unknown to the world's consumers, Yahoo's target market. From a Wall Street Journal article published in 1992:
Though the world's sixth largest PC software company, Autodesk is hardly a household name for a couple of reasons. One is that it dominates a niche: software that allows relatively inexpensive personal computers to produce powerful models for engineers, architects and other professional designers.
The other reason is Autodesk's founding genius, John Walker, a reclusive programmer who doesn't allow the company to distribute his picture or publish it in its annual report. In a rare interview granted for this article, a prickly Mr. Walker insisted that a reporter sit in front of a video camera, declared that Autodesk claimed a copyright on the ensuing discussion and debated the meaning of each question.
Bartz was brought in from Sun Microsystems as Walker was having a fit over how her predecessor, Alvar Green, was running things.
A year ago, Mr. Walker issued the ultimate in flame mail, a 44-page letter brutally attacking Mr. Green for allegedly trying to bolster short-term profits by neglecting investment in new products and marketing. Mr. Green later decided to resign, but stayed on until the selection of Ms. Bartz, 43, who formerly ran worldwide field operations for Sun Microsystems Inc.
Ironically, Bartz reports she was rudely dismissed from Yahoo with a phone call.
We give Carol full credit for positive results in Autodesk's difficult environment. That environment, however, couldn't have been more different than Yahoo's.
Update: Yahoo stock up on news of Bartz firing.
Update #2: Yahoo has now been put up for sale.