by Jon Swartz
Sept 6, 2011
SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was ousted late Tuesday by the Internet pioneer's board of directors.
The company says Bartz will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Timothy Morse on an interim basis.
Bartz, 63, who joined Yahoo in early 2009, has had a rocky tenure marked by layoffs, slumping sales and discord among the company's executive ranks.
The embattled company settled a dispute over Alipay that resulted in a diminishing Yahoo stake in the Chinese payment service.
The outspoken Bartz broke the news of her firing in a memo sent from her iPad to employees.
In it, she wrote, "I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo's chairman of the board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you, and I wish you only the best going forward."
"We are committed to exploring and evaluating possibilities and opportunities that will put Yahoo on a trajectory for growth and innovation and deliver value to shareholders," Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock said in a statement.
The firing, long speculated upon in Silicon Valley circles, comes days after rumors surfaced that Yahoo was looking for a replacement for Bartz. At the time, though, Yahoo officials denied that the board was ousting Bartz.
Yahoo shares were up 6%, to $13.65, in after-hours trading.
The firing is hardly surprising, given Yahoo's struggles. Bartz has slashed costs at Yahoo with layoffs and a search partnership with Microsoft. Still, Yahoo's U.S. search market share has sputtered at about 16% since December, says market researcher ComScore.
But as recently as late June, Yahoo's board gave Bartz a vote of confidence at the company's shareholder meeting. Yet discussion at the sometimes contentious meeting centered as much on her job security as on Yahoo's long-term prospects.
Two investors challenged Bartz during a brief question-and-answer session. One compared Bartz to a "lame-duck" and beseeched Yahoo to replace her.
"That was a downer," responded Bartz, who presided over the meeting.
Bartz said Yahoo has made significant strides the past year to emerge as a "premiere digital-media company" for 680 million customers. It has improved financial performance and entrenched itself as a top online destination for news, sports, finance and entertainment.
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