Yahoo said on Tuesday it has chosen former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz as its next CEO to replace Jerry Yang, who announced his intention to step down in November.
The company also announced that President Sue Decker, who had been a candidate for the CEO position, has resigned and will leave the company after a transitional period.
Decker worked at Yahoo for eight-and-a-half years and was a close supporter of Yang.
In a statement, Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock said Bartz has the right mix of technology and business savvy to lead Yahoo, as well as a strong leadership style and a proven track record of driving growth, shareholder value and operational excellence.
"She is admired in the Valley as well as on Wall Street for her deep management expertise, strong customer orientation, excellent people skills, and firm understanding of the challenges facing our industry," Bostock said.
In the same statement, Bartz praised Yahoo for its assets, technology, staff and accomplishments. "There is no denying that Yahoo has faced enormous challenges over the last year, but I believe there is now an extraordinary opportunity to create value for our shareholders and new possibilities for our customers, partners and employees. We will seize that opportunity," she said.
Yang also praised Bartz, calling her "the ideal person" to drive Yahoo forward. "I believe Yahoo's best years are still ahead of it," he said in the statement.
Gartner analyst Allen Weiner called Bartz "a very solid pick" who should be an "easy sell" to investors, partners, employees and advertising customers. "She can bring the adult supervision the company has lacked," Weiner said.
He downplayed Bartz's lack of experience in the Web 2.0 world, saying plenty of people at Yahoo have that type of knowledge. Bartz brings a steady hand that will give Yahoo operational direction and strategic focus, just as Eric Schmidt has done at Google, Weiner said.
"She's the person who can come in and put the peanut butter back in the jar," he said, referring to a controversial memo a Yahoo executive penned in late 2006, in which he likened Yahoo's lack of focus to a spread of peanut butter: amorphous and shallow.
Industry analyst Greg Sterling from Sterling Market Intelligence said his initial reaction to Bartz is "cautious." Bartz seems like a solid, competent manager and a safe choice for Yahoo, which could have gone for a flashier pick from the Web 2.0 ranks.
The question is whether she can lead Yahoo out of its yearslong crisis, given her lack of experience with the Internet and online advertising markets, Sterling said.
Neither analyst believes Bartz was brought in to broker a sale of Yahoo, nor do they expect her to implement major changes in technology strategy.
Bartz will take up her new job immediately. She also takes a seat on the Yahoo board.
Bartz was Autodesk's executive board chairman. She previously served as its chairman, president and CEO for 14 years, stepping down in April 2006.
While she was at the helm, Autodesk diversified its product line and saw its revenue rise from US$285 million to $1.523 billion, according to Autodesk's corporate website.
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