Monday, April 27, 2009

Carol Bartz's Version of the Straight Talk Express

Yahoo! (YHOO) held its Q1 earnings call last night with Carol Bartz (in her first call since starting as CEO) and Blake Jorgensen (in his last call as CFO).

It was classic Bartz: direct, under-promising, and a few vulgarities thrown in for good measure -- to show both her exasperation with YHOO's ways of the past and her determination to fix them.

YHOO shareholders should like what they heard. After years of neglect, the company is being retooled, so that the deadwood is removed -- not just in headline reductions (a new 5% in reductions was announced last night), but in being able to speak in specificity about where and why those cuts are being made. It's clear that she has her hands around the problem; something her predecessors never conveyed on these calls.

What I also liked about Bartz was that she's clearly a techie who can also speak to CMOs about advertising spend and their needs. She laid out some of the pluses and minuses of the YHOO engineering organization, but also the earful she's getting from YHOO customers and the general macro environment and how that's affecting where and how dollars are spent. Sue Decker, who was very bright, came from a Wall Street background and never really was able to speak with credibility to an engireering or a marketing audience.

Bartz and the rest of her team have a lot of work to do -- something she went out of her way to reiterate to the analysts last night. But she's on the right track. As I said the other day, the biggest payoff to YHOO shareholders will come at the end of the year after more of Bartz's seeds begin to sprout.

Originally Published in on 4/22/2009 9:10 AM EDT

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