The last time Yahoo was searching for a CEO during a tough time, it picked a familiar face, Jerry Yang. Mr. Yang had been one of the company's cofounders and seemed like a good fit to turn the company around. It turned out he wasn't. Over the next year and a half, Yahoo saw its market share get gobbled up by a hungry Google and saw an embarrassing hostile takeover attempt from Microsoft. In the end, Mr. Yang stepped down and the company was left searching for a successor.
Now Yahoo has finally announced their pick, and it will strike some as perhaps unsurprising that they picked an outsider. Yahoo is ready to announce that the former Chairman and Chief Executive of software design company Autodesk, Carol Bartz, will come aboard as CEO of Yahoo. Ms. Bartz resigned from her chairman, CEO and president roles in 2006, but remained with the company temporarily as executive chairman.
Todd Greenwald, an analyst for Signal Hill comments, "I think to a certain extent, any certainty is good, and any new CEO is better than what they have right now. Right now they've been without real leadership for several months now. She's really facing a perfect storm here: a challenging economy, challenging position in the market ... the online advertising market is going to be very hard for them."
However, while he does not feel Ms. Bartz has what it takes to necessarily turn the company around. He states, "I think the reaction is going to be mixed. On one hand it's better than going with some internal option, but on the other hand, I think the market may be a little bit disappointed that Yahoo's not going with someone who isn't a little bit more savvy when it comes to technology and media."
"There were other execs out that had a lot more experience with the actual markets that Yahoo is in, which is very different from what she was involved with at Autodesk, with design software. That may be her biggest challenge, really getting up to speed on the world of media and online advertising and monetization which is really what Yahoo needs to improve on."
While Yahoo faces a tough uphill battle in terms of advertising revenue and search market share, it does hold one key trump card over Google. At the Consumer Electronics Show 2009, virtually every display manufacturer announced high definition LCD TVs loaded with Yahoo widgets internet connectivity. LG, Visio, Toshiba, Sony, and Samsung all announced partnerships with Yahoo. While this technology is currently on the high end, it will eventually trickle down to the average consumer and the internet connectivity will be expanded.
With Google caught sleeping when it comes to internet-loaded TV, Yahoo is poised to have a market of millions of new users. Yahoo representatives spoke with DailyTech at CES 2009 and said that for now the company just wants to get its service on as many new TVs as possible.
However, they agreed that there were plans to eventually roll out advertising with the service. And when those plans actualize, Yahoo may be able to finally take on Google. However, in order to carry out such an ambitious campaign, it needs a good leader at its helm. Thus, new CEO Carol Bartz's leadership will play an integral role in determining whether Yahoo experiences newfound success or continues in its decline.