The Carol Bartz experiment is over at Yahoo!
After nearly three years of tough-talking rhetoric, but more progress on the bottom line than the top, Yahoo! is ready to move in a new direction at the top. The dot-com giant is tapping CFO Tim Morse as its interim CEO as it initiates a search for its next leader. But is that Morse code signaling the company's openness to buyout offers?
The news of Bartz's departure shouldn't come as a surprise. She became CEO on Jan. 13, 2009, when the stock closed at $12.10. The stock's close yesterday -- after a monstrous bullish rally for tech stocks that began a few weeks after her arrival -- was less than 7% higher. Larger rival Google
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The next few weeks will be interesting. The board will try to fill the haunted CEO slot as rivals and private equity firms begin to unofficially kick the tires.
At the very least, Bartz can say that she's not the one who blew off Microsoft's buyout offer in the low $30s. That happened the year before she arrived. Her legacy won't be completely tarnished, since she was able to drive substantial margin improvement at the company. However, sometimes a turnaround on the bottom line isn't enough.
Investors want Yahoo! to stand up. It failed to do so under Bartz.
If you want to follow the search for a CEO more closely, add Yahoo! to My Watchlist.