Why would anyone want to be Yahoo’s CEO?

As the company searches for Bartz's replacement, its biggest obstacle is likely the track record of past CEOs after they moved under Yahoo's figurative purple umbrella (Reuters)

“They are going to have a lot of trouble filling that job,” said a tech industry consultant who asked to remain anonymous because of a relationship with Yahoo. “Anybody great is not likely to go there.”

A second source close to Yahoo added: “It’s a very risky move for an executive to moor their reputation to Yahoo. No one has been able to turn it around.

Would you like to work as CEO here?

Would you like to work as CEO here?


Bartz came to Yahoo in 2009 as the tough-talking, bottom-line oriented CEO who led software developer Autodesk to prodigious revenue and share price growth. When she left Yahoo Tuesday, she was viewed as an executive incapable of innovation and lacking vision, an executive who failed to move Yahoo’s stock price or operating performance in any meaningful way.

She is also widely seen as having made a bad deal to hand Yahoo’s search engine operations to Microsoft.

“Bartz’s demise underscores that fallen angels in the Internet space are really hard to turn around,” Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin wrote in a report Wednesday. “Her lack of success raises the risk that perhaps it simply can’t be done by anyone (unless you’re Steve Jobs).”

Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang served as the company’s CEO immediately before Bartz. But the beloved co-founder lasted just over a year in the role, changing in investor eyes from the heart and soul of the company to a fool who turned down a roughly $45 billion takeover offer from Microsoft for reasons that some say had more to do with ego than economics.

Then there’s Terry Semel. Prior to his six-year tenure at Yahoo, Semel spent 24 years running Warner Bros, transformingthe studio into a brand name by expanding internationally, diversifying into television, and rolling up record labels. By the time Semel was done, he had grown Warner Bros into a multibillion-dollar company.

That’s all a distant memory now. Semel is now known more for earning roughly $500 million during a six-year stint at Yahoo in which he failed miserably trying to move the company into content and — as a result of that change in focus — was deemed to have caused Yahoo to fall behind in technological and product innovation.


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