Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: ‘I’ve Been Fired Over the Phone’

Bartz came aboard in 2009 to help steer the internet titan in a new direction.

Last Updated: September 6, 2011 @ 5:58 PM

After two and a half years at the helm of Yahoo, Carol Bartz is out as CEO.

Bartz sent the following message to her employees: 

"To all,

I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.

Carol"

All Things D’s Kara Swisher initially reported the news, which Yahoo later confirmed in a press release that framed it as part of a greater executive shuffle. Not only is CFO Timothy Morse taking over as interim CEO, but  the company has created an Executive Leadership Council constituted of "key senior Yahoo! executives" to help manage day-to-day operations and evaluate future strategies.

"On behalf of the entire Board, I want to thank Carol for her service to Yahoo! during a critical time of transition in the Company's history, and against a very challenging macro-economic backdrop," said Roy Bostock,Yahoo's Chairman of the Board. "I would also like to express the Board's appreciation to Tim and thank him for accepting this important role. We have great confidence in his abilities and in those of the other executives who have been named to the Executive Leadership Council."

It appears Bostock and co-founder and director Jerry Yang were behind the decision.

Also read: Hulu Meets Bidders: Google, Yahoo, Other New Media

One of the Internet's early search giants, Yahoo has been adrift for years. The company has maintained a massive audience and high revenue totals, but its growth remains stagnant.

Bartz was hired to succeed Jerry Yang in Jaunary of 2009 and her mission was to revitalize the company. She came from Autodesk, which makes design software, and had served on the boads of tech companies like Intel and Cisco. 

While Bartz refocused Yahoo's efforts on content — particularly in the sports and finance sectors — and left search to one-time foe Microsoft, her new plan has not had the intended effect of increasing profitability.

Yahoo's stock has dropped precipitiously since May, going back to its pre-Bartz levels. Its share price ended the day at 12.91 — though it increased to 13.72 in after-hours trading — as compared to the year's high of 18.65 in May.

Doubts about the company's direction under Bartz led to a contentious appearance at the annual shareholder day in June when several shareholders pointed out its sinking stock price and list of departed executives. 

One particularly sharp thorn in their side seemed to be stagnant advertising sales. When Yahoo and Microsoft partnered in search rather than continue fighting one another — to Google's benefit —  it was Yahoo's job to bring in the advertisers. Instead, it has lost market share to competitors like Facebook and Google.

Also problematic are delayed efforts to sell its stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, which would improve its cash flow.

There have been rumors that the company is for sale, or that it might merge with fellow Internet pioneer AOL, but none of this has been substantiated by anyone at the company.

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