Bartz Fired; Morse Named Interim CEO; Yahoo Board Creates Circle Of Elders To Decide Company Fate

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Carol Bartz is officially out as the President and CEO of Yahoo. In an email this afternoon to Yahoo employees, Bartz, who has been in the top role at Yahoo since January 2009, confirmed that she’d been fired by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board, Roy Bostock, by phone call. At least it wasn’t via text message.

Kara Swisher of AllThingsD initially broke the news of Bartz’s departure. Yahoo has since confirmed that Tim Morse, who joined Yahoo from Altera as the company’s new CFO in June, will become Interim CEO as Yahoo searches for a permanent replacement. Morse will also continue to serve as CFO during the interim.

Boystock’s statement, via press release, is as follows: “The Board sees enormous growth opportunities on which Yahoo! can capitalize, and our primary objective is to leverage the Company’s leadership and current business assets and platforms to execute against these opportunities”.

But Morse replacing Bartz is not the end of this shakeup saga, as Yahoo announced in its statement that it will also be creating an “Executive Leadership Council”, which will consist of Michael Callahan, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary; Blake Irving, Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer; Ross Levinsohn, Executive Vice President, Americas; Rich Riley, Senior Vice President & MD, EMEA Region; and Rose Tsou, Senior Vice President, APAC Region — all banding together to support Morse during the interim.

According to the statement, Yahoo Co-founders David Filo and Jerry Yang will each continue as Chief Yahoos, counseling Morse as well as the Circle of Elders — er, the Leadership Council — during the interim. While Yahoo is undoubtedly attempting to take steps to ensure the future stability of the company, this Council does remind one of the age-old saying, “a camel is a horse designed by committee”.

When Bartz replaced Yahoo Co-founder Jerry Yang in 2009 as CEO, the fiery new Yahoo Chief Executive had a lot on her plate, to say the least. Yahoo was once a great company, but the end of Yang’s tenure — and some would say the whole of it — was practically a Greek tragedy. Yahoo needed a strong leader to replace Yang, and many hoped Bartz would bring the gusto the once-big-search company needed.

But, as Mike Arrington wrote six months later, the honeymoon was somewhat short-lived. By February 2010, one didn’t have to go far to find “Rise and Fall of Yahoo”-type infographics. In fact, last year at San Francisco Disrupt, Arrington’s pointed questions about Yahoo’s shaky present and unstable future even prompted Bartz to drop an “F Bomb”.

Between March 2009 and March 2010, Bartz held a 77 percent approval rating among her employees, whereas by March of this year, her approval rating dropped to 50 percent. While that approval rating still remained higher than that of her predecessor, it seems that the Yahoo board has since become antsy. Yahoo’s declining relevancy in the tech world is no secret, and I think we’re all across the board eager to see the company return to some shade of its former self.

We’re all rooting for Yahoo, but as one can see by this tweet from the former Yahoo SVP of communications (who was there for 5 years), the reactions to Bartz’s departure are not exactly lamenting in nature.

Hopefully, the board’s newly formed Thought Leader Council will indeed be successful in “supporting a comprehensive strategic review” that positions Yahoo for strong growth and future victories, but doesn’t this just feel like a slightly depressing reel we’ve all seen before?