Yahoo's Troubling Exodus

Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz
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Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has got a full-blown crisis on her hands, as three key executives are headed for the door.

I’ve confirmed that Yahoo expects Executive VP Hilary Schneider to leave, and mobile and audience executive David Ko.

Media chief Jimmy Pitaro is the third rumored to be heading out.

These are key people in charge of generating Yahoo’s core revenue and executing its strategy. Schneider in particular: The Americas region Schneider leads accounts for more than 75% of Yahoo’s revenue. And the entire sales force reports to her, after the departure earlier this year of sales chief Joanne Bradford.

Folks I’ve talked to close to Yahoo say there could be an announcement about some of these departures as soon as this afternoon. Stock’s down 1.5% on a flat day for the Nasdaq. (Track Yahoo here)

Bartz earned praise for her toughness when she joined Yahoo in January 2009, and she has worked to cut extraneous businesses and make hard decisions about priorities, like when she outsourced core search technology to Microsoft.

The problem seems to be, Bartz was hired to take a scandal-wracked, undisciplined company and manage it. And her management approach, at the moment, seems to be failing.

Yahoo’s spin on these departures is failing, too.

On Bartz’s watch, Yahoo has now lost key technical minds, its sales chief, and soon, it seems, three top operational leaders. Some of that’s to be expected in a deep recession, where talent is in high demand. But no question about it, to use a political metaphor, these are Bartz’s midterms: she’s going to have to adjust her approach with partners, employees and probably Yahoo’s board, or she risks getting voted out – by investors.

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