There's a lot to like about Yahoo's new CEO, Carol Bartz.
Unlike Jerry Yang, she's got personality. She doesn't mince words and has been known to drop an expletive or two. More importantly, she seems to have a pretty good idea of what's wrong at Yahoo and some decent ideas for fixing it.
But after reading a summary of Bartz's comments at her keynote interview at AllThingsDigital's D7 conference, I started to wonder. Her answers seemed just a little bit too slick. And then I read her comment about Yahoo needing "boatloads of money" to do a deal with Microsoft. Huh? That ship sailed long ago.
It all got me thinking: does Carol Bartz have the substance to match her style?
Obviously Bartz isn't going to fix Yahoo overnight and there are a lot of difficult issues that she'll need to address. She has plenty to work with: Yahoo is still a very unique company with some great assets. Whether it can figure out how to make them all work together to build something that's greater than the sum of its parts is the real question.
I already have some concerns. While Yahoo's desire to turn itself into one big social network is not new, the reports that Yahoo CTO Ari Balogh recently stated "I can guarantee you there will be some acquisitions" in the space is worrisome to me. As far as I'm concerned, Yahoo should focus on making its in-house efforts pay off before it acquires anything. Right now, Yahoo probably shouldn't be acquiring companies, let alone unprofitable social networking startups that Yahoo would need to figure out how to integrate with its larger network. Balogh's comments, to me at least, indicate that Yahoo still hasn't come to grips with where it's going, even if Bartz is doing a good job convincing us that it has.
As Staci D. Kramer of PaidContent notes, there's little doubt that Bartz has what it takes to be a bonafide leader. But talk is cheap and personally, as someone who would like to see Yahoo succeed if for no other reason than to provide a stronger counterweight to Google, I think I've heard enough words on the conference circuit. I'd like to see more action.
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