Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz defends company, tenure

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Yahoo’s embattled Chief Executive Carol Bartz defended her company and her tenure in an interview with John Battelle at the Web 2.0 Summit on Tuesday.

Less than one week after reports began circulating that Yahoo would lay off workers in its product division even as other Internet companies duke it out for technical talent, Bartz said the struggling Internet giant can still attract top people by offering them ‘fascinating jobs’ and said, ‘We are hiring every day.’

But she acknowledged that Yahoo, in the midst of a turnaround effort that has been going on for years, has a tough time competing for engineers with young technology companies that can hand out pre-IPO stock.

She also said Yahoo would not give all of its employees across-the-board raises like Internet search giant and Silicon Valley neighbor Google. Google last week told its 23,300 employees it would give them all a 10% raise. But she did contend that the company should draw talent because the stock price is ‘going to go up.’


Bartz is still asking investors for patience. She said that Yahoo’s turnaround efforts were ongoing. Yahoo is like a car ripping up Highway 101 at 100 miles an hour while changing the tires, she said. Retorted Battelle: ‘We’ve heard that one before.’

Bartz denied a rift with Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group, in which Yahoo has a 40% stake, which has significantly boosted Yahoo’s market value. And Bartz said Yahoo plans to keep the stake.

‘Yahoo has stood for a lot in the Internet,’ Bartz said. ‘It has stood for fun, it has stood for relevance. It has stood for context around information. Has it had some tough years, sure? I think companies can be tested, and companies pick themselves up when they’ve had some challenges, and that’s what Yahoo is doing.’ Bartz steered clear of questions about recent reports that AOL Inc. (AOL) was talking with buyout firms about taking Yahoo private.

‘It’s always easy to say would, should, could and I won’t,’ she said.

She did manage to explain what Yahoo is, something that has eluded her in the past. ‘It has taken me two years but I got it,’ Bartz said. ‘It’s the largest media, content, communications company in the world.’

But she got her back up when asked whether Yahoo lacks an identity. ‘When you get 30 miles outside Silicon Valley and 60 miles out of New York, everyone knows what Yahoo stands for,’ she said. ‘They don’t ask these trick questions.’


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