After Bartz: Search for the next Chief Yahoo (interview)

"She went down in flames!" - What type of leader does Yahoo need now that Carol Bartz is out?

Yahoo Headquarters

Yahoo HeadquartersWhat’s next for Yahoo? Former Chairman and CEO Terry Semel was quite specific yesterday at a media leadership conference in Los Angeles when he told a crowd, “think twice about rehiring Carol Bartz.”

Surely, under the right type of leadership, though, Yahoo’s fortunes can turn for the better- as I’ve written before, there’s a strong asset base (display ads), some well recognized brands (Yahoo Sports) and a core customer base that seems to be willing to ride out the rocky times. I’ve been hearing rumors about a buy-out. And that seems like an increasingly probably scenario- depending on the price, potential music to investor’s ears.

Meanwhile, interim CEO Tim Morse got a nice bump in pay recently.

If not Bartz, then what type of leader should the company be searching for, and how can it avoid a *&@! repeat of the past two years? To find out I spent some time with Karen Turrini, a specialist in C-level hires.

Stark Insider: Carol Bartz. Obviously it was a short, controversial run. I’ve written before that it was a smash or trash situation, that she’d either turn around Yahoo and come out a star, or go down in flames. What do you think of the job she did?

Karren Turrini, Executive Vice President at DHR International
Karren Turrini, Executive Vice President at DHR International

Karen Turrini: She went down in flames! Carol is a capable and experienced CEO however Yahoo should have hired someone current in social media like Sheryl Sandberg (Google, Facebook).

SI: Basically Yahoo moved sideways during her tenure, while Facebook, Google, Twitter and others continued to grow. Do you think some skills are more important for a company in such a hyper-competitive environment?

KT: Timing is everything but experience in the space is key- inexperience at this pace is risky.

SI: Some say (perhaps to grab headlines) that her firing was based on gender. Being very familiar with hockey locker rooms I must say her profanity-laced style wasn’t exactly foreign to me. Men, it seems, can get away with the f-bomb. Do you think women need to approach leadership differently?

KT: Her outburst was very unprofessional no matter what gender she is! I can’t recall any man being that rude! Women leaders need to be driven and intelligent- just like their male counterparts but they bring the added dimension of being multi-taskers and brilliant managers.

Carol Bartz
Carol Bartz had a controversial, expletive-filled 2-year run at Yahoo. Photo: Stephen Shankland/CNET.

SI: Okay, let’s talk about what’s next for Yahoo. The company is in disarray- perhaps only matched in Silicon Valley by HP. What type of leader do they need now and what guidance would you provide on finding that person?

KT: Yahoo still has a massive audience but Jerry Yang should have sold it many years ago but someone will buy it now. Too bad they didn’t take the 47.5 B offer from Microsoft in 2008….now Microsoft will get it for a bargain!

SI: For aspiring CEOs everywhere, what is the #1 thing they should do to get to the top…. and what is the #1 thing they should avoid?

KT: #1. Hire and surround yourself with the brightest and the best (always more talented than you) and the #1 thing to avoid is a big EGO!

SI: And, now, because we like to have a little fun mixed in with our tech, the Stark 3 – rapid fire, lightning round…

… favorite adult beverage (wine/beer… other)?

Dimmi over ice with a twist

… favorite food?

Salad Caprese and anything Italian

…. favorite gadget?

Blackberry and my tennis racquet

SI: Thanks Karen for spending time with us.

Karren Turrini is Executive Vice President at DHR International. Based out of San Francisco, she specializes in C-level and VP searches in tech.

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