Carol Bartz is not stupid nor a bad leader. In the early 1990's, Autodesk was failing. It was unfocused, undefined, and it was easy to see the atrophy of quality in its products. There was no leadership, and the young company was losing the faith of its own customers. It was basically a miniature version of where Yahoo was last year when Arrington was calling for Yang's head.
Bartz came into Autodesk and turned the company around. She cut products that weren't working, she focused the company's energy on AutoCad and other cash cow products, and she developed a pretty awesome culture that still exists today. She took risks at Autodesk, and pushed the company to explore products that seemed impossible to build. But some of those experiments turned into extremely successful features of AutoCad (many of them failed, too, but she developed a culture that encouraged failure with quick abandonment).
When Bartz went to Yahoo, I was expecting a repeat of her early days at Autodesk. But it hasn't happened. She just started cursing at the news media and firing people. She has not created a focused product strategy. She has taken a failing Yahoo culture and somehow made it even worse.
Given her track record, I don't understand why she has accomplished so little in time she has had. Something does not add up.
probably because Autodesk bought it's way into the market in the 90's, starting with discreet - and only then reshuffling a bit. You can watch the interview with Dan Drake (Autodesk cofounder) on NerdTV (we need that show back ASAP) - http://www.pbs.org/cringely/nerdtv/shows/ ... hear what he is saying, buying in to the market is a great way to do business. Autodesk is not favorite company amongst companies, but it sure can do business.
edit: everyone, be sure to watch that video even if you don't give rats balls about autodesk or anything. Guy gives some serious experience / advice how they went from startup to godzilla.
It also upsets me because they had awesome talent there in terms of product/engineering. They all left one by one. Here's just a small list of names I could think of off the top of my head:
Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. There are countless others who have left, and probably it's even sadder that some awesome talent is still fighting the good fight there. Sadly, there's no real product focus worth a damn that they can make good use of their talents with. They could have also acquired other top tier talent if there wasn't such an exodus during the initial bid by Microsoft. I wonder what a group of 10-15 of smart product focused hackers+product guys from yc/hn would do to fix Yahoo! up. hmm, feel free to email me thoughts, could make for an interesting potential blog post/theoretical situation.
Doug Cutting left too IIRC.
Could it be even better? Sure. I'd love to be the overall product czar at Yahoo (hire me, Carol; forget that Brad Garlinghouse fellow who cut and run), flitting about from team to team demanding polish on various bits and pieces.
But Yahoo does better at selling premium ad space than anyone else on Earth - and they're creating more premium ad space than anyone else on Earth with their content investments in Sports, News, Finance, OMG, and so on.
Yahoo have been struggling with their position in search for years, and they have been losing marketshare. They have an inferior product, and they haven't been able to compete technologically with their main competitor. Their advertising platform isn't big enough to maximise their returns, since Google has most of the mindshare.
A partnership with Microsoft for search engine technology seems like a decent approach, since Microsoft are willing to put the investment in to ensure Bing's search technology is as good as Google's, and their combined single ad platform is going to advantageous to both companies.
Yahoo aren't giving up on search. They're still going to have a search engine, afterall, and Yahoo is still going to have their own custom interface with Bing's results being the backend. Ultimately, they're just giving up trying to compete technologically with Google. They've long been unable to do that anyway - no-one uses Yahoo for their superior results.
So what's next for Yahoo? Slimlining. Strengthening their core businesses - refreshing their main services (portal, e-mail, messenger) combined with an advertising push is good, as is their plans to expand into the Arabic markets. Closing dated, unpopular, or unprofitable services (are people seriously mourning the loss of Geocities, Yahoo Brief Case and Yahoo 360?). Getting rid of properties or partnerships that differ from their core business as a content provider. I honestly don't see what's so bad about that.
Were people expecting miracles in 8 months?
Bartz < Yang < Someone else.
Is it any wonder a whole essay was written about knee-jerk responses to Arrington?
edit: The tragically deceased parent comment was a complaint about the incongruity of "Can we please have Jerry back" and "Do I really want Yahoo to bring Jerry Yang back? No, not really." The author then asked if it was any wonder that so many people dislike TechCrunch.
Don't delete comments with replies. Losing a maximum of five karma points isn't the end of the world, though I think downvoting is generally a silly thing to do.
Quite possibly the most epic burn I've seen all month.
I really don't think you can call the rule that simple. (Maybe they might suck as product evangelists, but as CEO's they all did a pretty good job).
First to come to mind is Lou Gerstner, who turned around IBM. I read his autobiography about the experience - crazy stuff. He was up against so much built up gunk and bureaucracy, that only an outsider could've broken.