Carol, take note: Wharton professor says Yahoo needs someone with ‘spunk’

yahoo_logoAt least four professors at the Wharton School of Business contributed to an article about the challenges faced by Yahoo’s new chief executive titled: “Carol Bartz’s Challenge at Yahoo: Choose a Path, Build a Team and Do It Fast”.

Don’t worry about a lot of deep academic analysis. Here’s a sample of what Wharton management professor Lawrence Hrebiniak had to say: Yahoo needs someone with “spunk. Bartz has to come in and take action.”

“I don’t think people know what Yahoo is right now,” says Wharton management professor Keith Weigelt. “Yahoo’s core product requires technology, but it’s really a media company. Yahoo [has many] positive characteristics, but Bartz needs to bring in a strategic focus. Yahoo is way too broad.”

According to Wharton management professor Rahul Kapoor, Bartz needs to make a few early moves to address the short-term concerns. The biggest of those, he believes, are employee morale and shareholder confidence. “The present economic crisis won’t make addressing those challenges any easier.”

The article suggests that many industry analysts feel Bartz lacks online media experience. Bernstein analyst Jeffrey Lindsay wrote in a research note that Bartz “has been a good CEO,” but is “not a natural choice for Yahoo.” Citi analyst Mark Mahaney agreed that Bartz “brings to Yahoo organizational chops, a fresh perspective and substantial technology industry experience,” adding, however, that she would need to hire a lieutenant with extensive media industry experience. Gartner analyst Allen Weiner characterized Bartz as a “solid and safe choice” who will need Yahoo insiders for media expertise.

Especially given the resignation of former Yahoo president, Sue Decker, who was passed over for the top spot after Jerry Yang ended his stint leading the company he co-founded.

Wharton management professor Peter Cappelli suggests that Bartz “find an insider, someone with expertise in the media side, to help understand the ins and outs of the company and provide some balance as to what is possible.” The rationale for such a move is clear, he says: Bartz needs to move quickly. “If the top two people are outsiders, they are both trying to learn how things work at the same time. Also, you don’t need two different outside perspectives.”

Which brings to mind a name from our own past: Hillary Schneider. A former investment banker, Schneider was once considered a possible replacement for Tony Ridder as chief executive of our former owner, Knight-Ridder. She was promoted last year to head Yahoo’s U.S. region.

 

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