Taken To The Carol Bartz Woodshed

Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz
Yahoo CEO, Carol Bartz

Let's face it: Yahoo and I last year had some differences, and I had some harsh - though I still believe fair - criticisms of management's missteps.

So when Carol Bartz took over as CEO a few months ago, I like everyone else was intrigued about how she would turn this struggling company around.

And I was eager to sit down with her to discuss Yahoo's future.

I got my chance yesterday with Bartz in her first TV interview since taking the Yahoo job, and what I got was a decidedly aggressive, straight-talkin', honest, sharp executive, firmly in charge, with a vision and the methods to make it happen. In short, I got exactly what Yahoo hasn't been, but has so desperately needed.

"Excuse me," Bartz said to me, when I turned our talk to competing with Google, and asked whether Yahoo was satisfied picking up the scraps in the market place.

"We aren’t picking anything up,"
she said. (I thought she was gonna lean in and take a swing at me. It was great!). "We are the market we are in. We are very very good in providing people with the information and content they need. We are not a search company. It is no different than any software company competing against Microsoft and saying, 'Just because we are software doesn’t mean we are an operating system.' Just because we are on the Internet does not mean that we are a Search company. We are much broader than a Search company. We are positioned totally different so this sort of drafting that happened behind Google is nonsense. They are making a lot of money, good for them. We're making a lot of money, good for us. We're serving entirely different needs. You don’t go to Google to find out what’s happening in the financial world. You don’t go to Google to connect up with groups that you are interested in. You don’t go to Google to get the headline news of the moment. That’s not what happens there. So we are very different and we are just as special as they are."

Man, where has THAT messaging been these last few years.

Another good exchange when I asked her about the ongoing "turnaround" strategy she's implementing.

"Ok, I am going to take you on here. There is no turnaround at Yahoo. Yahoo is only down 13 percent year over year. Far less than most people in the advertising business, far less if you look at a lot of advertising- related companies that are down 30 to 40 percent," she says. "In this market, down 15 percent is the new flat. So we are doing very well. There is not a turnaround. There is a mental turnaround, frankly, for you guys (in the media) but there’s not a turnaround involved in this company. This is really about continuing to grow and continuing to get our reach. We’ve got the number 1 finance site, news site, sports site, number 1 mail by 2x in the world, our Messenger is big, Answers we are number 1, so you know all this business of turnaround is just crazy."

All I can say is "Bravo, Ms. Bartz."

Now let's see if any of this begins to resonate on Wall Street. Couple this messaging with Bartz's complete management structure overhaul, and Yahoo might finally be on the right track to unlock some shareholder value.

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