Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz engaged in a broad-based discussion about her company during the Morgan Stanley Technology Conference in San Francisco on March 3, terming any negotiations with Microsoft over search as private and citing-in a lighter moment-her preference for Google Maps.
With regard to the seemingly never-ending drama between Microsoft and Yahoo over the latter's possible acquisition of Yahoo's search business, Bartz merely said, "We're going to negotiate as companies negotiate, privately."
Bartz also made clear that, in her attempts to revive Yahoo, she would examine and perhaps cut whatever necessary to ensure the company's survival, particularly in the current economic climate.
"Everything is open for examination. I feel in this time we need to make sure we are running very tight fiscally so we can spend," Bartz said during a presentation. "Where we should do M&A, where we should sell, acquire, whatever ... then we can make a decision based on a sound organization."
Asked by an audience member about whether Yahoo now had a strong negotiating position with other companies, given its assets, Bartz responded with, "Yes, ma'am."
Her ultimate goal, Bartz added, is to turn Yahoo into a continuously visited portal for its customer base.
"I want the users to wake up in the morning, log into Yahoo, see what's important, and I want them to do that before they go to bed at night," she said. "To do that, we owe them a fun experience, an easy experience, [and] a non-frustrating experience."
Since taking the top spot at the company 35 days ago, Bartz has been attempting to shake up Yahoo's culture and reorganize its management, moves that may have led to the Feb. 26 announcement that Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen was leaving. Other upper-management personnel have also departed.
"We'll be able to make speedier decisions, the notorious silos are gone, and we have a renewed focus on the customer," Bartz wrote in her blog that same day. "For you using [Yahoo] every day, it will better enable us to deliver products that make you say, 'Wow.'"
Going into the future, one of Yahoo's international anchors will continue to be e-mail; Bartz related how she even ordered ads stopped in countries with low-bandwidth, because ad displays were slowing down the experience and contributing to massive customer frustration.
Roughly a billion e-mails pass through Yahoo's servers every day, larded with more than 10 billion spam messages. The company has also been heavily investing in storage.
In a lighter moment, Bartz also admitted that she relies on Google Maps as opposed to Yahoo Maps, a comment that provoked laughter from the room. "I'm just telling you, I don't think we paid any attention to [Yahoo Maps]," she said.
That, of course, may spell trouble for that particular application; earlier, in yet another example of her hard-charging style since becoming CEO, Bartz said she had "a wall of shame for products we're not so happy with."