Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

"Fearless Leader" Bartz Out of Foxhole, Reaching Out and Remaining Calm (Until Tomorrow, That Is!)

Thus spake Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz:

“There sure are a lot of folks writing about us. There are some pretty incredible stories out there. I’m not letting it distract me, and you shouldn’t either.”

That’s from her Friday note to Yahoo employees ast week, sent to me many times, in the wake of more rumors of a variety of takeover plots emerged and more folks writing–including the all-the-late-news-that’s-fit-to-print New York Times, who seems to have just realized the Internet giant might be “adrift.”

Wrote the Times:

“The board of Yahoo, the ailing Web portal, hired Carol A. Bartz as chief executive to apply a little shock therapy.

Now, nearly two years later, the patient is still suffering from many of the same symptoms: a stagnant business, shrinking market share and a shortage of innovation.”

BoomTown had no idea whatsoever until the Times declared it so!

In any case, I much preferred Bartz’s sassy note to employees, in which she called herself “your fearless leader,” rather than from another recent note in which she described herself as writing from a foxhole.

Plus, this one had some news nuggets, such as:

That “Microsoft should be powering paid search in the U.S. and Canada by the end of this month, right on schedule.”

And that, “on Monday, we’re going Alpha in four countries on a totally new platform for global News,” dumping nine different News code bases “with ‘new’ News we can bring a new site up in a month.”

Of course, Bartz had to do a significant pretzel to manage her sunny assessment of the Yahoo homepage outage last week as a good thing.

“Several outlets indicated their surprise at such a major issue with one of the world’s largest Websites, noting the importance of Yahoo! to the daily lives of users and the fact that Yahoo! is never down,” she wrote.

Except it, um, was down.

Water under the bridge, it seems, as multiple sources tell me Bartz has been spending a lot of time reaching out to many outside Yahoo in a much friendlier manner, perhaps to tamp down the negative chatter about her salty demeanor.

She’ll likely be doing more of that quite publicly tomorrow, after the markets close, when she presumably will lead the call with investors after the company’s third-quarter earnings are announced.

Wall Street consensus is that Yahoo’s net income will rise to 15 cents a share from 13 cents a year ago and and revenues will be a flattish $1.13 billion.

Investors are likely to react badly to any lesser results, especially after Google’s stellar performance last week and the likely terrific one by Apple today.

Most of all, analysts will be especially attuned to how Bartz positions the recent spate of top exec departures and her vision for growth at the Silicon Valley icon.

There might be a clue in her note to Yahoos, which she ended with a well-used metaphor: “Let’s all look out the windshield, not the back window. That’s how we move forward.”

Personally, when driving, I always look at both, since I find it safer to always be able to see exactly what’s coming and what’s going.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald