CES 2010: Carol Bartz to Keynote at CES Las Vegas

Update:  Bartz will not be speaking at CES 2010:  http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2355792,00.asp

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz will be one of the keynotes at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.  Bartz will speak at 11 AM Thursday, January 7th in the Las Vegas Hilton.

Bartz was Autodesk CEO from 1992 to 1996, and took the helm of a troubled Yahoo in January 2009, just months after Yahoo founder Jerry Yang resigned the post after months of controversy surrounding his decision to avoid a Microsoft takeover of Yahoo at upwards of $31 per share.

Bartz is known as a “no nonsense” tough executive and many assumed at the time her job was to groom the company for a Microsoft takeover. However that never materialized.  Instead, Yahoo and Microsoft recently announced a joint search deal where Yahoo will effectively be dropping Yahoo search and using Microsoft BING search technology instead.  Yahoo will continue to sell advertising across both networks giving the combined Microsoft Yahoo search empire a larger advertising footprint.   Most feel this deal is more beneficial to Microsoft than Yahoo since it expands BING’s reach at only a small cost to Microsoft.   Yahoo will retain most of the advertising revenues for the next several years in this deal.

Perhaps Bartz most quotable moments to date were about a month into her tenure when she said she would “kick ass” with the Yahoo brand and also inadvertently suggested that some Yahoo engineers were not “f**king doing anything.”

Other executives expected to give keynote addresses at CES 2010 include Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Alan Mulally of Ford (see our CES 2009 Coverage of Mulally’s keynote) , Paul Otellini of Intel, and Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo of Nokia.

Yahoo CEO Terry Semel spoke at CES 2006, and Jerry Yang gave a very uninspired talk in 2008 CES, but Yahoo had little to say at CES 2009.

Gary Shapiro of the Consumer Electronics Association said after the announcement:

“Yahoo is a top global brand whose vision is to be the center of people’s online lives, and Carol Bartz is leading the development of Yahoo’s approach to delivering personally relevant, meaningful Internet experiences,”


Disclosure:  Joe owns YHOO stock

New CEO Bartz on Yahoo “Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again.”

Only in Silicon Valley could a CEO get away talking about their brand “kicking ass”, but Yahoo’s in Silicon Valley and Carol Bartz is their new tough talking CEO, who today wrote in Yahoo’s official blog “Yahoo Anecdotal” that Yahoo is “Getting our house in order“.  Among other thing Bartz says she is :

….rolling out a new management structure that I believe will make Yahoo! a lot faster on its feet. 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. For you using Yahoo! every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, “Wow.”

When former Yahoo CEO and co-founder Jerry Yang (Yahoo was co-founded with David Filo) left the company a few months ago Carol Bartz stepped in aggressively, presumably tasked by Yahoo’s board to either turn the company around or prepare for a sale of Yahoo Search, or perhaps even the entire company, to Microsoft.

Given that turning Yahoo around is considered by most to be extremely challenging and long term,  I think we should assume Bartz is working the Microsoft sales angle even though much of the tough talk is more along today’s lines of restoring the second most recognizable internet brand to at least a shadow of Yahoo’s former glory.     Note though that even assuming a sale to MIcrosoft is in the goal, it’s probably in Yahoo shareholder’s best interests for Bartz to talk and work towards shoring up the brand, hoping to encourage Microsoft to offer more of a premium over the current share price than they might if they knew a deal was inevitable.

We can get some insight into what Carl Icahn – one of Yahoo’s largest shareholders and board members –  is looking for in this deal thanks to this excellent report on his stock holdings and pricing.   With an average share price is in the neighborhood of $20-25,  I would argue that Icahn wants Microsoft to come in somewhere north of that for him to agree to a sale.     Microsoft offered $31 officially last year before the stock meltdown and most fell they would have paid about $34, but clearly that deal is long off the table. However given Microsoft’s lackluster online performance and the chance for a crack at Google’s dominance, look for Microsoft to make an offer soon.  Look for Yahoo to probably take it.

DISCLOSURE:   Technology Reporter Joe Hunkins is long on YHOO

Carol Bartz to become Yahoo’s new CEO

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Carol Bartz is about to accept Yahoo’s offer to be their new CEO, replacing Jerry Yang after his stint of about a year where Yahoo saw their share price collapse after a rejection of offers from Microsoft that many feel were as much an ego play by Yang than a reasoned business decision.

Bartz has been CEO of Autodesk and it remains somewhat unclear why Yahoo’s board sees Bartz as the best person for the job at this challenging time in Yahoo’s corporate history. One idea bandied about on CNBC right now is that Yahoo’s plans are to sell off their search business to Microsoft and then reinvent themselves as a software company, although I’m skeptical even Yahoo would be so foolish as to think they can monetize software in the current online environment where most software is free.

Yahoo does have huge potential to leverage it’s brilliant Web 2.0 development to date (e.g. Flickr, Open Search APIs, etc), but only if they can find ways to make sure their huge internet footprint stays intact and users start to see and interact with Yahoo advertising. If Bartz can do this Yahoo’s prospects could improve significantly.

Disclosure: Long on YHOO

Jerry Yang Resignation Memo to Yahoo Employees

Jerry Yang will soon resign for the CEO post at Yahoo, continuing in that position until a successor is found.   Here is the memo he sent to Yahoo employees today:

To: all yahoos
Fr: Jerry
Subject: update

yahoos –

i wanted to address all of you on the news we’ve just announced. the board of directors and I have agreed to initiate a succession process for the ceo role of yahoo!. roy bostock, our chairman of the board, is leading the effort to identify and assess potential candidates for consideration by the full board. the board will be evaluating and considering both internal and external candidates and has retained heidrick and struggles to help in this effort.

i will be participating in the search for my successor, and i will continue as ceo until the board selects a new ceo. once a successor is named, i will return to my previous role as chief yahoo and continue to serve as a director on the board.

last june, i accepted the board’s request that i assume the ceo role to restructure and reposition the company as a whole in order to more effectively meet the fast-changing needs of both users and partners. since taking on the ceo role, i have had an ongoing dialogue with the board about succession timing. thanks in large measure to your tireless efforts, we have created a more open, competitive yahoo! and we believe the time is now right to transition to a new ceo who can take the company to the next level.

despite the external environment we face, the fact remains that yahoo! is now a significantly different company that is stronger in many ways than it was just 18 months ago. this only makes it all the more essential that we manage this opportunity to leverage the progress up to this point as effectively as possible. i strongly believe that having transformed our platform and better aligned costs and revenues, we have a unique window for the right ceo to take ownership over the next wave of mission-critical decisions facing the company.

all of you know that I have always, and will always bleed purple. i will always do what I think is right for this great company. while this step will be an adjustment for all of us, i know it’s the right one. i look forward to updating you on this process as soon as the board has developments to share, and will continue to do everything i can to make yahoo! fulfill its full potential.

thank you,
jerry

Online Advertising Primer from Google

Alex at Google is explaining Google’s decision to buy DoubleClick and in doing so offers one of the best advertising primers I’ve run across.   People seem to have an enormous difficulty understanding why contextually targeted search ads tend to be a lot more effective than offline advertising and this will help them.  Online banner ads are probably just as crappy as offline ads.   This is a key reason Google has done so well – they dominate the contextual ad market while Yahoo has struggled to deliver a similar quality product.  Yahoo now has a good contextual ad product, but some think it’s too late for Yahoo to capture a big part of this market.   My view is that the game has only begun.

Bebos, billions, and why Yahoo is starting to piss me off.

Yahoo may buy Bebo, the British “Myspace”, for a billion dollars. That is a LOT of money – about 3% of Yahoo’s market cap. Presumably this, like Yahoo’s unsuccessful Facebook aquisition attempt, is Yahoo’s approach to recapturing the market dominance it enjoyed back in the day. Dominance through the aquisition of a social network rather than developing their own.

They should know better than to trust their existing criteria for decisions about aquisitions. Yahoo is the company that aquired Overture’s pay per click technology years ago, and then managed to cede dominance in that area to Google. Ever heard of Google? Yahoo probably could have *owned* Google, but it seems higher management didn’t think search had the monetization potential of … broadcast.com which was purchased for billions.

Isn’t it time for top management at Yahoo to let innovation, not aquisitions, rule the day? This approach has worked very well for Google, who’s main mistakes now appear to be in aquiring things like YouTube which in my opinion is unlikely to recover YouTube’s 1.6 billion price tag and will certainly pester Google with big money lawsuits for decades. Yahoo’s still got a LOT of great technical people, especially in the developer and new business divisions. More importantly, the world is producing hundreds of thousands of new, brilliant innovators every year, most of whom are chomping at the bit to bring new and exciting innovation to the hungry online world. Why not devote the billions to this rather than purchasing companies with marginal revenues and long term prospects that are more hope and prayer than reality?

With the latest flurry of high priced aquistions it almost seems like, to the big players, the billion dollar deal is the new million dollar deal. I remain skeptical that deals of this size pay off in the long run – certainly very, very few of the early pre-bubble ones did not pay off for companies. I’d suggest that the smaller deals (e.g. Flickr) do have potential, but that Yahoo’s top management is looking for a killer deal that simply does exist while the innovation approach (ie much, MUCH more support to the core values and teams at Yahoo) is starting them in the face. Traffic? Yahoo’s got plenty of it. Modest changes can send millions of Yahoo users to any new idea, so why not do this *a lot more* and test *a lot more ideas*.

Edison suggested that there is always a better way, and it’s time for Yahoo to ….. find it.

More Bebo-logy from Techmeme:

Yahoo may net Bebo owners $1bn

 

 

Bebo/YHOO: My Rumor’s Bigger Than Yours

Yahoo May Be Bidding For Social Network Bebo: Report

Yahoo: When You Can’t Buy Facebook, You Buy Bebo

Bebo is not for sale


Google and Privacy

Here is a nice post from Google about their new policy to anonymize search info from users. Like many I have been critical in the past of Google and others for storing this information with little regard to who owns it or saying what they’ll be doing with it.     Yahoo and MSN do not (yet) have similar policies so I think Google can rightly claim a higher road since they have also been the one who has fought Government attempts to nab search data.   (I have mixed feelings about that since, unlike folks like Battelle, I fear commercial abuses  more than I fear the Government will use my data in illegal and harmful ways.

Microsoft may buy Yahoo = a good idea.

Wow, I’m liking my Yahoo stock which just jumped over $5 per share,but Microsoft couldn’t you have announced the possible bid to buy Yahoo about a month back when I had my 2000 YHOO 30 calls? With Yahoo at $33.34 I could have sold that 1000 investment for a cool $67,000!

WSJ Story (paywall)

NY Post Story

Henry Blodget thinks it’s important to spin off a new company rather than just suck Yahoo up into the borgness of Microsoft.

But hey, I do think this aquisition/merger is a good idea. Yahoo is very different from Microsoft. However, to the limited extent I interact with MS and Yahoo it seems to me that both of those corporate cultures have become bureaucratic, sluggish, and uninspired when compared to Google’s freewheeling yet very productive approaches. Yet very importantly, the people I meet from Yahoo and MS are often as impressive as those at Google, and certainly capable of great things as all these folks reinvent the online world on a regular basis.

If Microsoft can pool the innovations of the LIVE project with Yahoo’s superb developer support programs, and hire and inspire more people to have the evangelical zeal of Googlers, it could be a whole new online ballgame.

Update:  Om Malik’s reporting that WSJ’s reporting the talks appear to be off already.

Fixing Yahoo

Over at Venture Beat Dave’s got a plan for Yahoo.

I think he makes good points, but I maintain that Fixing Yahoo is even easier, to wit:

Publishers are willing to spend a LOT of innovations and time finding the best monetization relationships with search engines and these can generally beat Google’s automated routines.    If you add this to cost per sale follow up metrics you have something that is unspoofable and better than Google, where advertisers continue to pay *hundreds of millions* per year (perhaps as much as a billion) for useless clicks if you assume that 20% of all clicks are worthless or fraudulent.

Google is milking the cow until the cow gets smart. Fortunately for Google evolution is slow and we humans are stupid.

Mashup Camp part DEUX

I’m very excited about the upcoming Mashup Camp 2 down in Silicon Valley July 12 and 13, and it’s NOT just because Yahoo is expected to have free martinis with blinking fake ice cubes at their party.

Mashup 1 was one of the most interesting and intense conferences I’ve ever done with about 300 wildly enthusiastic mashers showing off, watching, trading tips, and more.    Mashup 2 promises to be wildly interesting as well.  Mashup University will precede the two camp days and hopefully be a close up look at great stuff coming in from many API providers.   As always I’m looking for the travel holy grail, and I think we are getting closer as Bonosearch skeleton is now in place,ready for some travel related mashup inclusions and our travel focused search using Kinosearch.

Of course as Caterina Fake observed some time ago you Who’s talking to the users, writing the code, tweaking and retweaking the UI?  [hey, easy for Caterina to say – her (superb) company – Flickr –  already got bought up by Yahoo for tens of millions and she made the cover of Newsweek AND she gets to hang out with the amazing tech developers team at Yahoo.

But of course one can get so wrapped up in conferences that it’s hard to get work done.    I’ve done that this past year, so before Mashup Camp I’m getting off my butt and …  painting our house!    How’s that for techno convergence?