By Mike Caggeso
Yahoo Inc (YHOO) named Carol Bartz, 60, chairwoman of Autodesk Inc. (ADSK), its new chief executive following the departure of former company chief and co-founder Jerry Yang, who announced in November he would step down.
Bartz served as Autodesk's president and CEO for 14 years before stepping down from the post in April 2006. She remained chairwoman, and will continue in that role until Autodesk fills the position.
"We are very excited to have Carol Bartz leading Yahoo into its next era of growth. She is the exact combination of seasoned technology executive and savvy leader that the Board was looking for, and we are thrilled to have attracted such a world-class talent to Yahoo," Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock said in a statement.
"The Board is united in its view that her energetic and decisive leadership style, coupled with a proven track record of driving growth, operational excellence and shareholder value, is exactly what Yahoo! needs to get back on a path toward achieving its full potential," he added.
Yahoo President Susan Decker, who had been a candidate for the CEO position,, the Sunnyvale, Calif. company said in a statement.
Yahoo's news release was quick to mention that Autodesk's revenue nearly quadrupled and stock value increased almost ten-fold during Bartz' tenure.
Both issues are thorns in the side of disgruntled Yahoo shareholders, especially billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who publicly chastised Yang for passing on a $47.5 billion, or $33 a share, acquisition offer from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).
Yahoo's profits have fallen 10 of the past 11 quarters, and its shares have fallen more than 60% from their 52-week high of $30.25 a share. Still, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is open to a partnership with Yahoo.
Bartz said she's looking forward to take Yahoo "to the next level."
"There is no denying that Yahoo has faced enormous challenges over the last year, but I believe there is now an extraordinary opportunity to create value for our shareholders and new possibilities for our customers, partners and employees," she said. "We will seize that opportunity."
While few candidates have as much executive experience – especially in Silicon Valley – as Bartz, some question whether she has the right experience for the job.
"She seems to me to be more of a builder than a buyer-and-flipper," Needham & Co analyst Richard Davis told Reuters. "I'm sure that plenty of people wanted to buy Autodesk over the years."
Bartz didn't get into specific plans during a conference call. And Ralph Whitworth, founder of San Diego-based Relational Investors LLC, which bought 9.2 million Yahoo shares in the third quarter of last year, said he's expecting transparency and speediness.
"There's high expectations and low patience," Whitworth told Bloomberg. "I would say within the next 90 days, there should be clear direction."
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