Bartz puts brave face on Yahoo numbers

Yahoo’s CEO Carol Bartz is trying to keep upbeat about Yahoo’s prospects, as its latest results continued to disappoint and the firm remains the subject of speculation about a Microsoft deal.

I met and profiled Carol Bartz a couple of years back, when she was CEO of CAD vendor Autodesk. Of all the CEOs I have interviewed, I found her among the most impressive: business acumen, technology expertise and a very human touch are three qualities you don’t often find in one leader.

Yahoo's Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz: from computer science at the University of Wisconsin to Yahoo CEO (via DEC, Sun and Autodesk).

But all of Bartz’s qualities will surely be called on now, as Yahoo reported quarterly results down 13% to $1.57bn, and profits down 25% to $76m.

But Bartz feels the company is improving: "I’m pleased with our results this past quarter," she said. "We established a clear, simple vision to be the centre of people’s lives online, and we’re backing that vision with important initiatives to create ‘wow’ experiences for our users."

With rival Google seeing flat revenues in its latest quarter but profits up 18%, the pressure is definitely on Bartz to either get the numbers heading in the right direction within the next two quarters, or to reconsider some kind of deal with Microsoft, which tried to buy the firm last year.

Co-founder Jerry Yang stepped aside as CEO at Yahoo in January to be replaced by Bartz, who was CEO at Autodesk for 14 years. Yang faced criticism from some shareholders for not accepting the $45bn Microsoft deal. The latest rumour is that Microsoft could take control of Yahoo’s search engine for $3bn.

Either way, one thing Bartz doesn’t have right now is time: shareholders have lost patience. Its stock is down 1.5% on the results announcement, taking another $350m off its market cap.

My profile of Carol Bartz is here.

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