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Autodesk exec Carol Bartz to become Yahoo! CEO: WSJ

by Staff Writers
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 13, 2009
Carol Bartz, former chief executive of software company Autodesk, has accepted an offer to become the next CEO of Yahoo!, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing "people familiar with the situation," said Yahoo! was expected to announce that Bartz had been named to replace Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang as CEO of the pioneering Internet firm.

Yahoo! did not immediately return AFP requests for comment and Autodesk said it knew nothing about the reported move by Bartz.

Yang, who earned the ire of many Yahoo! share-holders last year for rejecting a 47-billion-dollar takeover offer from Microsoft, announced on November 18 that he was stepping down after little over a year as CEO.

Bartz, 60, served as president, chairman and CEO of Autodesk from 1992 to April 2006 and still serves as executive chairman of the board of the company, which is based in San Rafael, California, and has some 7,000 employees.

Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said Bartz would have her work cut out for her at Yahoo!.

"If she is successful here, she will be a legend," he said. "This is one of those Hail Mary passes that someone at the end of their career might be willing to take."

During the nearly two months since Yang announced that he would be stepping down, Yahoo has likely courted executives with top track records in turning around struggling companies, according to Enderle.

"Any qualified turn-around manager asked to work at Yahoo would probably run screaming the other way, because you don't just have to turn this company around you have to figure out which direction," Enderle said.

Bartz formerly worked at Sun Microsystems Inc., Digital Equipment Corp., and 3M Corp. and sits on the boards of Cisco Systems Inc., Intel Corp. and NetApp.

A member of President George W. Bush's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, she has been named to Fortune magazine's list of the "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" and to Barron's list of the "World's 30 Most Respected CEOs."

Bartz would be taking over a company which has seen its share price drop by half over the past year and is struggling to reassert itself on the Web.

"In a difficulty range of 1 to 10, this is an 11," Enderle said. "Yahoo is kind of a science experiment so it has to be approached methodically by someone even-tempered and pragmatic, and those are skills she has."

The Sunnyvale, California, company has been losing ground on the Internet to companies such as Google, MySpace and Facebook and the economic slowdown has hurt the firm particularly hard as advertisers cut back on spending.

Yang's rejection of Microsoft's 33-dollar-a-share takeover bid was met with disapproval by many share-holders including billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who led a revolt against Yang and was eventually named to Yahoo!'s board.

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has said the software giant remains interested in acquiring Yahoo!'s search business and Yahoo! has been under pressure from Icahn and other investors to reach a deal.

Yahoo's net profit for the third quarter of the fiscal year was 54 million dollars, or four cents per share, down from 151 million dollars and 11 cents per share during the same period of 2007.

Adding to its woes last year was the rejection by US Justice Department anti-trust regulators of a proposed advertising partnership with Internet search king Google.

The deal had been expected to earn Yahoo hundreds of millions of dollars in the first year alone.

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New Yahoo! CEO a no-nonsense Silicon Valley veteran
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 13, 2009
Carol Bartz, named on Tuesday to head struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo!, is a no-nonsense Silicon Valley veteran who turned Autodesk into a software powerhouse.

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