UPDATE: The story has been confirmed, and I got mention in the USAToday story.
Strong indications are that ex-Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz is going to be named Yahoo’s next CEO. I find this an interesting choice, along these lines. To get someone of this stature (appropriate or not; more below) probably required a commitment to let her come in and make a (quick) determination about whether to double down on search or finallly sell to Microsoft. She’s a good candidate in either scenario, which is not true of many of the other names that have surfaced. If they decide that search remains an opportunity for them, she’s got great technical chops. If on the other hand a deal is to be made with Microsoft, she has a long history of “co-opetition” with Microsoft, and is a well-respected commodity there, particularly with Ballmer.
Whoever ends up in charge, if they don’t come out punching with a cohesive story about how not only Yahoo doesn’t get enough credit for what it has done, what it’s still doing and, critically, what it’s going to do, they’ll be trying to roll the boulder uphill, and that’s not a sustainable communications position. That said, the challenge here has always been “what are they going to do.” Lots of interesting things at a micro level which have never come together as a coherent, integrated strategy when viewed from the top. Is Bartz the person to pull that together? I’m hard pressed to find another candidate who has her combination of Yahoo familiarity (at least with executives), Microsoft relationships and technical chops. Yeah, the lack of media/advertising background is glaring, but that was the case with Schmidt too.
I’m frankly surprised they were able to come up with such a strong candidate. I thought to get someone this strong, they were going to have to resolve the Microsoft search deal.