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Sat, Feb 28, 2009 - Page 10 News List

New CEO Bartz shakes up Yahoo


Newly crowned Yahoo chief executive Carol Bartz on Thursday shook up the floundering Internet pioneer’s management structure.

Bartz unveiled changes shortly after Yahoo sent US securities regulators word that chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen is leaving the company and that a hunt is on for his replacement.

“I’m rolling out a new management structure that I believe will make Yahoo a lot faster on its feet,” Bartz wrote in a Yahoo blog post.

“For us working at Yahoo, it means everything gets simpler. We’ll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer,” Bartz said.

Changes instituted by Bartz include combining Yahoo’s Tech and Products groups into a single unit responsible for “the vision, strategy, and quality of every product we create.”

Bartz picked executives to head Yahoo’s North America region, mobile business, engineering team, human resources, legal division and products group.

Elisa Steele was named to fill a freshly created position of chief marketing officer and is to start work next month.

“It’s a good sign,” analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said.

“Bartz is cherry-picking the ones she wants and dumping the ones she thinks won’t be able to work with her. You really want to see a CEO pick a team that is loyal to her,” he said.

Bartz, a former CEO of software firm Autodesk, said she was creating a Customer Advocacy group to augment the Yahoo customer care team.

“After getting a lot of angry calls at my office from frustrated customers, I realized we could do a better job of listening to you and supporting you,” Bartz wrote.

The group is also expected to learn from Yahoo users and advertisers what online services or products they desire, Bartz said.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of us on the inside don’t spend enough time looking to the outside,” Bartz wrote. “I’m singularly focused on providing you with awesome products. Period.”

Yahoo said the new structure was designed to last two to four years.

In an unusual move, Bartz appointed Joel Jones as “chief of staff.”

“A chief-of-staff you don’t normally get except in political jobs,” Enderle said. “Clearly, they are in turnaround mode. They are saying this is the transition team and it will take four years to turn the boat — which sounds reasonable.”

Bartz said she had been on a “whirlwind tour” of Yahoo during the six weeks since she took over as chief executive and that she is “slowly getting smarter about what makes this place tick.”

“People here have impressed the hell out of me ... But there’s also plenty that has bogged this company down,” Bartz wrote. “For starters, you’d be amazed at how complicated some things are here.”

Bartz said Yahoo had failed to make clear what the company represents.

She did not mention Jorgensen’s departure in her online posting. Jorgensen is the second Yahoo executive this week to head for an exit.

Neeraj Khemlani, vice president and general manager of Yahoo News and Information division, left on Monday for a digital media job with publishing group Hearst Corp.

During a talk on Tuesday at a Goldman Sachs technology conference, Jorgensen said Yahoo was open to selling its Web search business or entering into a partnership with another company, but doing a deal would be hard.

“We are not opposed to doing a deal that would maximize the value of the business in one way or another, be it a partnership or be it a long term sale,” Jorgensen said.

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