Yahoo confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that Bartz, former executive chairman of Autodesk, has joined the firm as its new CEO and member of its board of directors.
Bartz is replacing former CEO Jerry Yang, who stepped down last November after the failure of buyout talks with Microsoft, the breakdown of an online advertising deal with Google, and two rounds of layoffs.
"Honestly, first thing is she'll need to focus on the morale issue," said Renny Ponvert, CEO of Management CV, whose analysts track CEOs and top executives. " Terry Semel is to blame for breaking Yahoo. He created a real morale problem. There's been a tremendous brain drain. [Bartz] has to restore employee confidence. I think you should see a return to having a hip buzz around Yahoo. I think she'll get back to the basics."
Some analysts were quick to note that Bartz doesn't have experience with consumer Internet or media companies. Before becoming executive chairman of the board of Autodesk, Bartz was president and CEO of the CAD software and services business for 14 years before stepping down in 2006. Previously, she was an executive at Sun Microsystems, Digital Equipment and 3M.
"This will be different. Very different," said David Card, a principal analyst at Forrester. "She talks about knowing customers and being customer driven. Yahoo has consumers that use its services. It also has advertisers that market to those people and it also has publisher customers - other online media companies. She's going to have to understand how to keep three distinct customers happy. She's a software exec and Silicon Valley knows her and respects her, but she's not a consumer content business."
Ponvert, though, doesn't have any problem with that.
"A lot of people have been surprised, but I think she's a tremendous choice," he said. "Being a CEO is about strategy, executing big picture stuff and raising capital. Whether she's an Internet person isn't the issue... She's in the top quintile of CEOs - the top 20%."