Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Carol Bartz Friday Memos: Chick Flicks, the Need for Speed and WOW! (Also, Here Comes the Reorg!)


How much does BoomTown love the Friday weekly memos that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz sends out to the troops?

Very, very much since they are so full of significant news–a slowdown of Yahoo’s homepage redesign and a major limiting of the global rollout of its new advertising platform, APT, to name a few.

But they also have a weird but compelling kind of energy that nearly jumps off the page, giving clear insight into how Bartz thinks and operates.

Like the Energizer Bunny, I would say.

Here are two memos Bartz sent out to Yahoo (YHOO) staff, one from today and one from last week on Feb. 13, both of which discuss just how busy she is keeping herself.

This past week, for example, Bartz spent the weekend with advertisers and partners at the AT&T golf tournament in Pebble Beach, after which she threw some serious love in the direction of U.S. sales head Joanne Bradford and gave the advertising minions under her an A+.

Bartz also cheerily admits with a “whatever” that a “Brand Pride Memo,” which a Yahoo marketing exec asked her to rename in case it leaked–oops!–from last week (see below), was still a list of Yahoo embarrassments.

And she is headed to Europe in April, followed by Asia TBD, although this weekend, a husband-free Bartz is catching up on chick flicks–might I suggest, “He’s Just Not That Into You”–and resting up for the “big week” ahead.

That’s Bartz’s coy term for her massive reorganization of management, which is slated, many sources tell me, to be announced Wednesday. (See my post on that here.)

Last week, was much more newsworthy, as Bartz did a lot of business unit and product reviews–reportedly scaring the bejeesus out of staff who had to present–because, she said, they had not been done in a dog’s age at Yahoo.


Stressing a “need for speed” in the decision-making process at Yahoo and a “WOW” experience for users, Bartz seems to be whirling through Yahoo like Mr. Clean’s white tornado.

As BoomTown reported this week (correctly, Tapan!), for example, Metro–the Yahoo homepage redo–was delayed by her “until we feel it will be a great product for our users.”

Bartz then said she had decreed that ads were to be taken out of mail products in emerging markets, which will mean a drop in revenue (probably minuscule), but make for a better customer experience.

Most significantly, she also limited the global rollout of APT, Yahoo’s new advertising system, which was much touted by previous Yahoo management, to just the U.S. and one other country in order to “perfect” it.

This is a polite way of saying it is buggier than an Amazon jungle.

And, my favorite and hers: Bartz wrote that “we are assembling a list of products that we are embarrassed about for various reasons so we can make the important decision as to whether we fix them or discontinue them.”


Speaking of curdling, and to keep up the kooky quotient, Bartz also thanked Texas Yahoos for something called “Purple Cowboy wine,” as well as employees in Oshkosh, Wis., for cheese curds.

Then, it was off to make Valentines with her ubiquitous assistant, Judy Flores, after which she was set to do some major kissing up to ad customers at that golf tournament (not her strong suit, apparently, as it had been former Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang’s).

But, experience the full-Carol yourself in the two entire memos below:

February 20:

My week started last Friday down at the AT&T golf tournament where we hosted many of our important U.S. customers and partners. I thought I’d use this week’s note to give you some impressions:

First, I really want to congratulate Joanne Bradford’s team for hosting and running a first-class event. I know many of you in the company have absolutely no idea what happens in our regions or what salespeople do for a living (in fact, my past history has shown me that the way most engineers perceive salespeople is as lightweight, backslapping meeters and greeters). In fact, I’m delighted to report that Yahoo! has an A+ sales team. I watched them in action with customers such as Pepsi–it was clear they had the respect and trust of the customer and represented all of us Yahoos very well. It was very interesting to learn how creative our salespeople are in helping our clients devise interesting and profitable campaigns. I received a lot of compliments about how well-supported these customers and partners felt. Likewise, it was very clear to me that they support Yahoo! in return and very much want us to succeed.

Hey, that doesn’t mean they think we’re perfect! They had several ideas about our products and how we could do better, especially in this tough economic environment. This plays right into our focus on excellence and great products.

Last week I told you we were going to have our first pass at deciding which products embarrass us as a company. Kudos to Allen Olivo and his team for worrying that one of you might leak my email, so instead he called it the “Brand Pride List.” Whatever, the point is still important and we had a great discussion on which products to stop and which to make a lot better. More to follow…

I realize this is a very U.S.-centric message but that’s because I spent three days with U.S. customers. Just wait until I blow through Europe in April–I’ll be sharing all sorts of European goodies with you! And yes, I am going to Asia as well–we just haven’t settled on the date yet.

My husband is out of town this weekend, so I’m looking forward to watching all the “chick flicks” that he refuses to watch with me. I hope you all have a fun weekend. Get well-rested, because next week’s a biggie. :)


February 13:

A great illustration of my need for speed.

Had a big staff meeting this week. We spent all day Monday and Tuesday reviewing our strategies and major products on both the audience and advertising sides. It was a great introduction for me and even an eye-opener for the entire team when they realized that many of these strategies and products hadn’t been delved into in a long time (a big thanks to all the presenters who worked so hard):

· We talked a lot about the importance of having a WOW experience for all of our users around the world. As an example, we are delaying the launch of Metro until we feel it will be a great product for our users.

· Similarly, we discovered that we are losing mail share to the competition in many slower-bandwidth, emerging markets so we have made a decision to remove mail ads in those countries to improve the user experience. This will mean a drop in revenue for us but it’s the right thing to do strategically.

· We have also decided to “perfect” APT! in the US and only one international market before we roll it out globally.

· And finally, my favorite–we are assembling a list of products that we are embarrassed about for various reasons so we can make the important decision as to whether we fix them or discontinue them.

What does this have to do with the need for speed? Many of the things I just talked about could have and should have been decided earlier but we haven’t been an organization that has embraced the need for speedy decisions, even when they are the tough ones. We can all be part of changing this and getting back to an organization that is fast on its feet.

On a personal note, thanks to Team Texas Sales for the Purple Cowboy wine and the Care Center Service Desk in Oshkosh for the Wisconsin bag of goodies–my favorite were the cheese curds!

Judy and I went to URLs today and made Valentine’s for our sweeties–everybody remember yours so we can all have a big Yahoo! Valentine’s Day. I’m off to Pebble Beach tomorrow to meet, entertain and play golf with some of our biggest customers. Actually, it’s a great strategy because normally you have to “let” the customer win–fortunately, this is not a problem for me!


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