Following up on an earlier report speculating that former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz has been selected to become Yahoo’s new CEO, the Wall Street Journal is now saying that she has accepted the offer. We have emails out to Yahoo asking for confirmation. The 60-year-old Bartz would bring a steady, seasoned hand to Yahoo’s leadership, but it is not clear in what direction she would take the company.
Bartz is a capable manager. She led Autodesk for 14 years between 1992 and 2006, keeping it from the PC software graveyard by focusing on CAD software for architects and builders. Autodesk, however, is an old-school software company. It is not exactly a great training ground for running an online advertising business attached to the most popular destinations on the Web. And as far as applications go, they are all Web apps and Yahoo gives them away for free.
Bartz is most definitely an ally of founder and outgoing CEO Jerry Yang. They both sit on Cisco’s board. But it gets better. She also sits on Intel’s board with Yahoo president Susan Decker. In other words, she is has close ties with existing management. (Decker, though, wanted the CEO job as well).
So how should shareholders read this pick? She doesn’t seem like the type of CEO who is going to be leading Yahoo for the next 14 years (although anything is possible). More likely she will basically dress up Yahoo for a sale of part or all of its business, and do it in a way that is palatable to both Yang and the board.
Update: A Yahoo spokesperson says, “We can’t comment.”