SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Yahoo Inc named Autodesk Inc Chairman Carol Bartz as CEO, but Wall Street questioned whether the software executive has the experience needed to turn around the Internet media company.
While Bartz is a Silicon Valley veteran with a reputation for being a tough but fair manager, shareholders of Yahoo had hoped for a chief executive with more deal-making credentials who could revive talks with Microsoft Corp.
Yahoo also said on Tuesday that President Sue Decker, one of the candidates to succeed Jerry Yang as CEO, will resign after a transitional period. Other names that had been mentioned in the press as possible contenders include News Corp Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin and Arun Sarin, ex-CEO of Vodafone Group Plc.
"I think the market may be a little bit disappointed that Yahoo's not going with someone who isn't a little bit more savvy when it comes to technology and media," said Todd Greenwald, an analyst at Signal Hill.
Shares of Yahoo fell 3.6 percent after news of Bartz's hire was reported on the Wall Street Journal's website, but the stock recovered to end the day down just 1 percent at $12.10 as analysts said the end of the two-month CEO search could help bring some stability to the company.
Yang, who co-founded Yahoo, agreed in November to step down as CEO, capping a tumultuous year in which he angered many shareholders by rejecting a $47.5 billion takeover bid from Microsoft only to see an alternative Web search advertising partnership with Google Inc fall apart under U.S. antitrust scrutiny.
Yahoo has struggled to maintain its hold on the Internet search advertising market against Google, and suffered a dizzying stock slide after rejecting Microsoft's bid.
Bartz, 60, was chairman, president and CEO of software company Autodesk for 14 years until she stepped down in April 2006. Under her tenure, Autodesk's revenues rose to more than $1.5 billion from less than $300 million, and its share price increased nearly ten-fold, Yahoo said.
Autodesk said Bartz will remain executive chairman even after taking the Yahoo job. She has also held executive positions at Sun Microsystems Inc and is on the boards of Cisco Systems Inc and Intel Corp.
Bartz, on her first conference call as Yahoo's CEO, sharply rejected the idea that running an online media company would be a tough task given that her executive experience has mostly been in the software and technology fields.
"I didn't know CAD (computer-aided design) when I joined Autodesk, I didn't know hardware when I joined Sun," she said in response to an analyst's question. "I am a technology person, I am a market-driven person, I love customers. So I suspect I have a little brainpower to learn what it takes to understand media."
Bartz said she would "dive deep" into Yahoo in the next few weeks to learn more about its operations, and will look to Yang, the board and employees to "jump-start my education."
Gartner analyst Allen Weiner said Bartz is known as a leader who could build consensus among different factions.
"That's certainly something that Yahoo needs right now. They need that adult leader to bring that order to the company," he said. "She's not what you would call a dot-com or Web insider, but maybe that's not what Yahoo needs right now.
Bill Coleman, CEO of software maker Cassatt, who has known Bartz since 1985, said she was "an extrovert who gets energy out of being involved, being where the action is."
"She has the unique ability to be able to look you in the eye and tell you exactly what you are doing wrong -- how you messed up -- and you leave feeling that she has done you a favor," said Coleman, who worked for Bartz at Sun Microsystems in the 1980s and recruited her to the board of BEA Systems when he was BEA's chief executive.
Bartz holds a bachelors degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin.