September 2011
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Day September 7, 2011

Why Carol Bartz was fired

Occasionally I write articles titled “Why CEO X was fired.” You can read one here, and here and here.

These are allegorical stories. I don’t base the opinion on evidence but on perception of what’s wrong with a particular company’s strategy and then try to trace the point of strategic failure which should have triggered management change. Of course, the reasons are often something else, probably mundane or “political” in nature.

The objective therefore is to analyze strategy and more precisely strategy failure.

So, Yahoo! What went wrong?

Before we answer that, we should know what went right. Yahoo, like Google, depends on advertiser revenues. For that, it sells the behavior of its users. It processes over 25 billion events every day and builds a database (estimated to be in 10s of petabytes) to mine for information that is, hopefully, worth something to advertisers.

But in order to get user behavior it needs to provide compelling reasons for user participation. For that, Yahoo licenses content and offers communication services (among other things.)

This sounds like a reasonable business model. So what could go wrong?