September 06, 2011, 8:50 PM — Well, I may have just set a new personal record for most ill-timed and inaccurate tech prediction.
Just hours ago I predicted that, rumors of unrest notwithstanding, Yahoo's board of directors would take the easy way out and let embattled chief executive Carol Bartz play out her four-year contract, which expires in 18 months.
Now it looks like the board accelerated that timetable. According to All Things Digital's Kara Swisher, Bartz has been fired and replaced (in the interim) by CFO Tim Morse.
Details are scant, but according to Reuters, "Bartz on Tuesday said she had been fired over the phone by Chairman Roy Bostock, a source familiar with the matter quoted an internal company email as saying."
A phone firing sounds callous, but an interesting article in last week's Business Insider quotes a Yahoo source as saying that "Carol is in such a lame duck position that she's not really digging into it anymore. I'm worried that she's sort of checked out."
Sounds like she may not have even been coming into the office anymore! Which sort of makes it hard to fire someone in person.
Wall Street reaction to the firing was, not surprisingly, quite positive. Shares of Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) climbed in Tuesday's extended session to 13.90, or 7.7% above the 12.91 closing price.
What did in Bartz, quite simply, was that she didn't accomplish what the board wanted her to, which was to turn around the embattled Internet pioneer's fortunes. And that means growing revenue and, ultimately, increasing share price. Both flat-lined during her tenure.
Yes, Bartz delivered increased earnings, but mostly through cost-cutting and reorganization, corporate euphemisms for layoffs. I've said this many times before: It takes no talent to be a cost-cutting CEO, a "Chainsaw Al." All it takes is a certain ruthlessness.
What's really hard is to be a growth CEO. That takes an expansive vision, a sound strategy, and an ability to infuse employees with a sense of mission.
Regarding the first two, Bartz couldn't even articulate what Yahoo is and what it does.
And given the exodus of talent (on top of the layoffs) from Yahoo under Bartz's reign, it's pretty clear employees were infused with something considerably less than a sense of mission.