The Business On... Carol Bartz, chief executive, Yahoo

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The Independent Online


It has been only two and a half years since the Silicon Valley veteran took the helm at Yahoo, but rumours of her imminent firing have been doing the rounds now for... oh, about two years.

And now she is in thelast-chance saloon?

There certainly looks like being a sizeable protest vote against herre-election and against other board members at the shareholder meeting today, which promises to be a fiery affair.

Why the disillusion?

Where to start? Its news, email and Flickr photo sharing services together make Yahoo one of the biggest internet companies, but there is a strategic drift that has become very alarming. The decision to outsource the Yahoo search engineto Microsoft is not paying the promised dividends. Facebook has just overtaken Yahoo in terms of dollars spent on display advertising on its site. I could go on...

Go on...

Wall Street sees very little value in the core Yahoo business, and is more interested in its stake in its Chinese partner Alibaba, except that relationship has soured badly under Ms Bartz, and the pair are in a dispute over the sale of a Chinese subsidiary.

What does Bartz say to all this?

She is a no-nonsense kind of speaker. In one televised appearance, she told an interviewer to "Fuck off" when he asked about all this. Her standard response is that Steve Jobs was back at the helm of Apple for several years before he came up with the iPod.

Is Yahoo about to inventthe iPod?

More likely it will do a bet-the-farm acquisition of an internet business that seems to have a brighter future. Hence the speculation yesterday that it is behind an unsolicited approach for Hulu. That's the online TV site currently owned by the big US broadcasters.

And Bartz? She survives?

"Carol has the full confidence of the Yahoo board," it said yesterday. So probably not.