Yahoo Investors: We Would Have Preferred Steve Jobs…
The markets are having their say about Yahoo’s choice of Autodesk Chairwoman Carol Bartz as CEO and they don’t seem to much care for it. Though Bartz is a widely respected Silicon Valley veteran and has done much to improve Autodesk’s fortunes, investors aren’t so sure she’ll do the same for Yahoo (YHOO).
Shares of the deteriorating Internet company slipped on news of the impending announcement, falling more than two percent to $11.96. Earlier in the day, they’d been trading at $12.79.
Clearly, Bartz’s appointment doesn’t appear to be inspiring much confidence in investors–at least at the outset. Perhaps all her enterprise experience is proving a bit of a turnoff. Ten years as vice president at Sun Microsystems (JAVA). Board seats at Intel (INTC), Cisco Systems (CSCO), and NetApp (NTAP). Where’s the Internet experience? Where’s Steve Jobs? Surely he could right this sinking ship.
“She was an inoffensive, but largely unexciting candidate–someone who would be a steady hand at the wheel–but investors were hoping for a lot more than that,” Jeff Lindsay, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein in New York, told Bloomberg. “She’s undoubtedly a competent and able executive. The problem is, is she the right fit for the job?”
Likely a better fit than Jerry Yang. And that’s a start, right? Oh, there’s this as well: When Bartz started at Autodesk it had revenues of $285 million. Today it generates about $1.5 billion.
Says Needham analyst Mark May:
If the reports are accurate, our initial reaction is that we view Bartz as a good choice because:
- she has an established track record of running (CEO) a major public company (there are few/no such individuals w/ both major public CEO and new media experience)
- she has a strong technical background, having run Autodesk and served on the Boards of Cisco, Intel, NetApp and others
- based on our conversations, she is well-regarded by industry counterparts, investors and analysts
- based on our conversations as well as a review of a series of presentations Bartz has given over the years, she not only shows great leadership qualities, but is thoughtful and passionate about a number of topics important to Yahoo today (e.g., global ops mgmt, consumer targeting/personalization, integration w/ wireless platforms, dealing w/ unexpected corp stresses, etc.)
- Bartz is a known quantity at the senior levels of Yahoo, w/ Yang having served w/ her on the Cisco board and Yahoo! President Sue Decker serving on the Intel board w/ her.
Of course, there is more we’d like to see/hear before making our final determination, such as i) what’s Bartz’s strategy/vision; ii) will current President Sue Decker resign; iii) will Bartz hire a strong #2 w/ new media experience; and, iv) will Chairman Roy Bostock resign. That said, our initial reaction to the possibility of Bartz being named Yahoo!’s new CEO is favorable.