Carol Bartz is out as Yahoo CEO


Yahoo Inc. Chief Executive Carol Bartz was ousted by the company’s board Tuesday, bringing an abrupt but not surprising end to a rocky tenure at the struggling Internet search company.

Bartz, 62, said in a memo to employees that Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock fired her over the phone. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company’s chief financial officer, Tim Morse, was named interim chief executive.

“She was very highly compensated for a CEO who had declining revenue growth every single quarter,” said Colin Gillis, a technology analyst at BGC Partners.


Scrutiny was expected to intensify with second-quarter earnings that analyst expect will show consumers continued to spend less time and advertisers less money on Yahoo, Gillis added.

Calls for her resignation have dogged Bartz for years as Yahoo suffered a stream of executive defections. Most recently, Yahoo settled a dispute surrounding Chinese payment service Alipay that reduced Yahoo’s stake in the company.

Bartz had a year remaining on her four-year contract.

Despite growing frustration from shareholders, Bostock voiced his support for Bartz in June at Yahoo’s annual meeting. Shareholders approved Bartz’s reelection to the board with about 80% of the votes.

But Bartz, whose long career in Silicon Valley included 14 years running software design firm Autodesk, was never a popular choice to help the struggling Yahoo bounce back from its languishing stock price and fend off rising competition from Facebook Inc. and Google Inc.

Bartz introduced herself to Wall Street as a brash new CEO in January 2009, demanding that everyone give the struggling Internet giant “some friggin’ breathing room.”

On the heels of bungled merger talks with Microsoft Corp., Yahoo investors weren’t sold on hiring an executive with no experience running an Internet company to oversee one of that industry’s toughest turnarounds.

Bartz had cautioned that it could take several years for Yahoo to stage a comeback, pointing out that Apple Inc. did not take off as soon as co-founder Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997.

Once a titan in the online advertising world, Yahoo in recent years has had trouble keeping pace with the rapid growth of its competitors, and of the digital ad market.

Two years ago, Yahoo accounted for more than 16% of online ad revenue. That number will fall to 11% this year, according to eMarketer Inc., an advertising research firm. Meanwhile, market leader Google’s share of the ad market has grown to nearly 41% from 35% in the same period, and Facebook has nearly tripled its market share to 7%.

Peter Chernin, the former News Corp. chief operating officer who now runs a motion picture and television production company, Chernin Entertainment, has been mentioned in the past in connection with the top job at Yahoo. But a spokeswoman for Chernin said Tuesday that he was not considering such a position at Yahoo.

Staff writers Dawn C. Chmielewski and David Sarno contributed to this report.