Yahoo CEO to Shareholders: Two More Effing Years

Sorry, investors: Carol Bartz says turning around the Internet giant will take "another year or two"

By Owen Thomas
|  Thursday, Jun 4, 2009  |  Updated 5:46 AM PDT
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Yahoo CEO to Shareholders: Two More Effing Years

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Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is becoming known for dropping profanities into her tough turnaround talk.

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You have to love a Fortune 500 CEO who thinks nothing of dropping the F-bomb. But Carol Bartz will need more than trash talk to satisfy Yahoo's impatient investors.

The Sunnyvale, Calif. company is in turnaround mode, she said in a speech delivered in New York today at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch's 2009 Technology Conference. But that's been true of Yahoo for years, dating back to 2005, when the company's post-dotcom rebound ended and Google began its inexorable rise. She's promising results -- in another year or two.

Bartz, a Silicon Valley veteran who previously ran software company Autodesk, has expressed profane surprise at how messed up Yahoo is, swearing during a conference call with Wall Street analysts and at the D technology conference, held last week at a resort north of San Diego. Investors who have suffered through the company's mismanagement might as well have been swearing with her. Yahoo's stock, which closed today at $16.30, has fallen inexorably since it peaked above $40 in early 2006.

She did drop a strong hint that there won't be another Microsoft deal -- the abortive Internet merger that tied up both Microsoft and Yahoo for most of last year: "Yahoo actually has a bright, bright future, probably cleaner and simpler without thinking there's any Microsoft connection," she said, according to MarketWatch. That also means Yahoo shareholders won't see the quick fix of a deal to repair their portfolios.

What does Yahoo need? Fewer effing managers, to paraphrase Bartz, and more focus. Same problem as in 2006, when former Hollywood mogul Terry Semel was running the joint. Memo to Bartz: Stop swearing. Start doing.

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