Yahoo CEO Bartz Mum on Company’s Future

Yahoo’s Carol Bartz didn’t curse once. In fact, she didn’t say much of anything all that interesting.

A subdued Bartz took the stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Tuesday (Nov. 16), as the Yahoo CEO fended off questions about her company’s strategy, future and possible sale. The typically bombastic Bartz declined to comment on a much rumored private equity buyout, and would not touch questions about a possible partnership with AOL.

“I love being a public company CEO,” Bartz said. “Put that down…one of the rules of a CEO is you can’t comment on mergers. I won’t.”

Instead, Bartz stuck to the company’s seemingly new mantra, which is much like one it has employed for the past decade and a half—that Yahoo is about personalized services. Of course, Yahoo was one of the first companies to push personalization when it launched MyYahoo years ago.According to Bartz, Yahoo delivers 6 million personalized versions of its home page each day, based on user-registration information and data based on users’ surfing.

Given that experience, Bartz did announce that Yahoo is exploring the possibility of outsourcing its data-driven publishing expertise to multiple sites across the Web—much in the way it does with its ad products. “We are looking at helping people manage their content,” she said.Bartz also hinted that Yahoo may be looking to make an acquisition in the mom/parenting space to better cater to advertisers such as Procter & Gamble (the company has been rumored to be kicking the tires on Café Mom).

But Yahoo’s acquisition focus is predominantly on acquiring technology talent and new users. “I am so interested in tail content,” said Bartz, referring to Yahoo’s recent purchase of Associated Content. Bartz spent most of her session looking to define what Yahoo stands for and who it competes against. During a word association round of questions, she called Google a “great company” and Facebook a “competitor.” Yet Yahoo is looking to aggregate social media activity on its pages, much like it does with content, by allowing users to update their Facebook statuses on Yahoo.

Ultimately, Yahoo is about content, communications and innovation, said Bartz. “We know what we stand for,” she said. “If you go 30 miles outside of Silicon Valley and 60 miles outside of New York….everybody knows what we stand for. They don’t ask these trick questions like ‘What is Yahoo?'”