She did it again.
And really, it should come as no surprise.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz dropped the F*bomb once again, this time at a tech event in New York put together by Tech Crunch and Michael Arrington.
It's become almost blood sport among journalists covering Yahoo to see if they can evoke an expletive or two from the prickly Ms. Bartz who is rather well known for her potty mouth.
During an earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts about a year ago, she managed to slip in the F-word, quickly apologizing a few moments later. Her exact words: "There were engineers in almost every country, and way too many product people. We had one product management person for every three engineers. We had a lot people telling engineers what to do but nobody f***ing doing anything. Excuse me. I knew that would slip out one of these times."
Yesterday, Arrington got things off on the invective foot, jokingly asking Bartz, "How the f**k are you?" So, f**k was in the air when later, there was this exchange:
“MA: Is your pitch kind of BS though?
CB: Steve Jobs came back to Apple in 1997 — the iPod came out 4 years later. 3 years after that is the first time his market cap grew. It took 7 years. I’ve been here a few months. Give me a break. You are involved in a very tiny company.
MA: Very tiny.
CB: It probably takes you a long time just to convince yourself what to do. So f**k off!”
Having spent some time on the air with Bartz before this exchange with Arrington even happened, I sensed she was already in a mood.
It's no secret that I have been tough (but very fair, I might add) on Yahoo and its management and their constant missteps. Last year, at the D Conference, I finally got the chance to sit down with Bartz, face to face, and ask her some tough questions. While she was on good, verbal behavior, she pointed, and counter-pointed everything I asked about Yahoo, Google , competition, and Microsoft . She would begin answers with, "Excuse me," and then she would lay into me. It was a great interview, and I recounted as such in a blog post afterward. (Watch the video here)
She was tough, intelligent, skilled, and delivered a powerful message in a cogent way. Her stern tone with me got a lot of coverage. I've talked to her since, and I thoroughly enjoy each time we speak. Doesn't mean I'm not going to be tough, but if anyone has proven she can take it, and dish it out in spades, it's Bartz.
Yesterday morning, when I participated in an interview with Bartz, via satellite, I asked her about what seemed to be improving momentum at Yahoo while rival Google seemed to be stalling.
Bartz, clearly stunned by my conciliatory tone, went after me instead, in a perfectly playful way:
Me: Do you sense a momentum shift right now? It seems that Google is kind of stagnating, and there seems to be real momentum behind Yahoo, by evidenced of the deal you're announcing with Nokia?
Bartz: Jim, are you afraid I'm going to hit you again? (Laughter.) You say such nice things!
Goldman: Only via satellite, Carol. Only via satellite!
Bartz: That was so nice of you to say that! I'm certainly not going to say a competitor is stalling. That would be nonsense to say that, but I will say that Yahoo has momentum, so thank you for acknowledging that.
Look, she's tough, and when Yahoo isn't performing, her saucy tongue can be kind of anachronistic. But when Yahoo is firing on the right cylinders, there's no better asset for this company, and no better public face than Carol Bartz. Heck, even Joe Biden drops an F*bomb every now and again.
Now, if she could just clean up her language…
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