Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

How It Feels to Be Fired Carol Bartz-Style: "Amazing"

donald-trump-youre-fired-above-the-law-blog

A few weeks ago, BoomTown got a rather compelling email from Marion Vermazen, who once worked at Sun Microsystems with new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz.

Sun (JAVA) was one of the many companies where Bartz was an exec, before heading Autodesk (ADSK) and, now, Yahoo (YHOO)–and where Bartz actually fired Vermazen.

Her take on the experience?

“Amazing,” said Vermazen, whose last name was Brown at the time, given how Bartz handled it herself–driving 30 minutes to Vermazen’s office–in a very straightforward way that made the pain of the firing easier.

In other words, a kinder, classier Donald Trump “Apprentice” style, but without the cameras and bad hair.

It’s instructive, given that Bartz is likely to have to give several big Yahoo execs the heave-ho in the days ahead as she unveils her new management structure soon.

(By the way, though big change is a-coming, Yahoo sources said that Bartz will not be making a noisy announcement about her reorganization. Instead, she apparently will just do it–letting the internal memos leak, presumably–and move on to “putting some points on the board” before talking publicly.)

In any case, here’s Vermazen’s email, which she said I could post. She sent it to me after some pieces I did about Bartz’s take-charge style (also, you can see the now-retired Vermazen’s blog here):

This all sounds very familiar. 20+ years ago I was in the service organization at Sun when Bartz took over. In a staff meeting of the Service directors, she said that if we didn’t get our act together we’d be gone. I was in way over my head and a couple of weeks later she came to my office for a meeting with me and told me that I was being replaced. She said they weren’t going to take me out and shoot me, but that I would no longer be managing the software support group. I have enormous respect for her that she told me this to my face in my office. Most executives would have had HR do it or whatever. She is an amazing person.”


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik