She’s Baaaack: Carol Bartz Opines at WSJ Women’s Conference

Published on May 1, 2012
by Lauren Goode

Former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz provided plenty of color for writers and bloggers during her tenure at the company, but during an interview session at The Wall Street Journal’s Women in the Economy Conference in Palm Beach this morning, she took a decidedly reflective — albeit still candid — tone.

WSJ Deputy Managing Editor Alan Murray asked Bartz about the earlier stages of her career, before turning the talk to Yahoo.

A video clip is below, but here are some key quotes:

On her time at Yahoo:

“Turnarounds take a long time, and that kind of turnaround — and when I say that kind, you have an integrated culture and we were trying to change it. And the thing is that anyone that’s running a company that is so attractive to the media — our life was in a glass house.”

On the Yahoo board:

“You have a lot of people helping you with what you should do. That’s what boards get to do. They get to hire and fire CEOs. And now I get to be a big girl and say, ‘I don’t think you should have done that, but …'”

On calling the Yahoo board members “doofuses” after they fired her:

“Do you know what that means? Clueless. That’s all it means, clueless. It’s just a nice word.”

On her penchant for cursing:

Bartz said if she could change things about her experience at Yahoo, she might have cussed less.

“You did say the F-word a lot,” Murray said.

“And Jack Welch didn’t?” Bartz shot back.

“The three things that, every time they said my name, they said, ‘Carol Bartz, 60,'” she added, referencing her age. “‘Carol Bartz, 60’ and ‘salty mouth.’ Somehow, these things just got attached to me …”

On life in the new-media fishbowl:

Bartz said that when she spoke, her employees were tweeting and video-recording her every move.

“The way you manage your company and the way you manage your people has to be totally different,” she noted.

On taking cues from Apple::

“The most successful company in Silicon Valley is Apple, and they’re the most secretive. Think about that.”

Bartz, of course, wasn’t completely curse-free during the session, saying that part of her motivation in becoming a CEO was that she “could actually impart my values if I was CEO. And I wouldn’t have to work with —holes any more.”

And during an audience Q&A yesterday evening, following the conference’s kick-off interview with General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, Bartz stood up and told Akerson, along with the rest of the crowd, that she didn’t believe enough women supported other women in business.

“There are so few positions for women available that they have to be ├╝ber-competitive,” Bartz stated.

When I later ask Bartz what her thoughts were on new Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s performance so far, she replied: “No comment,” after saying she still “loves” Yahoo.

“I miss it,” Bartz said.

Here’s the video of Bartz being interviewed:

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