Confirmed: Yahoo Names Carol Bartz as New CEO

Yahoo has tapped tech industry veteran Carol Bartz as its new CEO.

Bartz was most recently executive chairman of the board of Autodesk, Inc., a California-based software company where she served as chairman, president and CEO for 14 years until 2006. A Silicon Valley veteran, Bartz had previously held executive positions at Sun Microsystems and 3M and has served on the boards of Intel and Cisco Systems.

The sixty-year-old Bartz takes over for Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, who announced he would step down as CEO in November. Yang’s tenure was tumultuous, marked by declining shareholder value, a failed takeover attempt by Microsoft, and proposed search advertising deal with Google that eventually proved fruitless. However, several of Yahoo’s media properties continued to thrive under Yang, though advertising growth slowed.

As a result of Bartz’ installment as CEO, Yahoo president and rumored CEO candidate Sue Decker announced that she would leave the company shortly. An eight-year Yahoo veteran, Decker’s career had been on the fast track in recent years, particularly as she jumped from chief financial officer to president back in 2007 following the ouster of former CEO Terry Semel.

In a statement issue on Tuesday (Jan. 13), Bartz acknowledged that righting Yahoo won’t be easy. “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,” said. “We will seize that opportunity.”

With Bartz’ hiring, Yahoo clearly has landed someone who knows the technology sector—she’s been a member of President Bush’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology–for example. However Bartz’ pure media experience appears limited. Autodesk, which saw its revenue climb from $285 million to $1.523 billion by 2006 under her leadership, produces software utilized by businesses in a range of industries, including construction, government, media and telecommunications.

But Yahoo executives said that Bartz met all of the company’s criteria–praising her understanding of the needs of Silicon Valley and Wall Street—along with her management skills.  According to Roy Bostock, Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board, she was the only person offered the job.