Yahoo names Carol Bartz new CEO

January 13, 2009 8:07:48 PM PST
Yahoo's new CEO is a Silicon Valley veteran who takes over a company facing an uncertain future. Sixty-year-old Carol Bartz becomes the only female CEO of a major company in the valley.

Becoming CEO at Yahoo could be the ultimate challenge for Carol Bartz. Yahoo was once the dominant Internet search engine. Now, people do five times more searches on Google every month. Microsoft tried to take over Yahoo, but now it's Bartz's turn.

Bartz broke the glass ceiling 14 years ago, becoming the CEO at Autodesk in Marin County. Besides her success at growing the graphics software company, Bartz encouraged more women to aim for the top.

"There's two women in Fortune 500 companies. I'm the only woman running a major high-tech company. That's crazy," said Bartz in an interview with ABC7 in 1998.

Some are saying she is crazy to take the top job at Yahoo, one of the valley's early successes done in recently by Google and by a lack of direction.

Tech analyst Rob Enderle is one of those critics who thinks she was not Yahoo's first choice.

"She is not a turnaround manager, not by any stretch of the imagination. She's a good sustaining manager. On the other hand, the reason they're probably dropping down to her is because every turnaround manager who's capable and competent probably looked at Yahoo and said this is a career-ending opportunity," said Enderle.

Yahoo turned down interview requests with Bartz. In a prepared statement, she acknowledged that Yahoo "has faced enormous challenges over the last year" and that there is "now an extraordinary opportunity to create value for our shareholders."

Bartz is no stranger to Yahoo's top management. Bartz serves on the board of Intel along with Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and on the board of Cisco Systems with Yahoo President Sue Decker. This will be her first experience at an Internet company.

"There's something different about an Internet company, and she's been at Autodesk. These things run at different speeds and I'm a little skeptical that she's going to be able to keep the company moving in the direction it needs to move at the proper pace," said David Needle, West Coast bureau chief of

Bartz will take over from Yang who issued a statement saying, "I hope to keep contributing to its success for many years to come."

"She probably won't be doing things fast and vigorous. She'll be trying to spend much of her time trying to figure out what to do first. That's probably closer to what they need," said Enderle.

There's also one other top change at Yahoo. Decker has resigned, but she will be staying on during a transition period as Bartz takes over.