Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Like Carol Bartz! Update

I generally don't talk about Yahoo much unless I'm making fun of them, but I noticed recently that Yahoo's share price had stabilized and in fact Yahoo's Market Cap was now greater than eBay's by more than $3 billion.

I've also been very impressed with new CEO Carol Bartz -- I like her style. Today, Ms. Bartz blogged for the first time regarding the upcoming restructuring. I don't know much about Yahoo's current structure but it looks like some needed changes are being made.

Some key points from the blog post that I like: 
"I’ve noticed that a lot of us on the inside don’t spend enough time looking to the outside. That’s why I’m creating a new Customer Advocacy group. After getting a lot of angry calls at my office from frustrated customers, I realized we could do a better job of listening to and supporting you. Our Customer Care team does an incredible job with the amazing number of people who come to them, but they need better resources. So we’re investing in that. After all, you deserve the very best."
"Finally, a note about our brand. It’s one of our biggest assets. Mention Yahoo! practically anywhere in the world, and people yodel. But in the past few years, we haven’t been as clear in showing the world what the Yahoo! brand stands for. We’re going to change that. Look for this company’s brand to kick ass again."

Now she sounds like the type of CEO that should be running eBay. Perhaps in the coming months she will :) I may have to bring back my Yahoo/eBay merger posts.

Update: Now this from the Silicon Alley Insider: Can We Have A Carol Bartz For eBay, Please?

Just my 15%


Frank said...

The Yahoo / Microsoft rumors are flying again and that might account for their value level.

Anonymous said...

What a breath of fresh air. How long as it been since JD even talked to the sellers???

Randy Smythe said...


The MS/Yahoo rumors certainly explain most of the rise in share price. I also think there is growing confidence in Bartz to at least make a positive impact.


Yeah, I like how she interacts. JD is uncomfortable with that approach and just not that type of person.

One blog post does not make a good CEO but she at least got me to pay attention.

Henrietta said...

It would be very hard for JD to talk to the sellers like that because he is basically clueless and that comes over very clearly every time he opens his mouth in public.

How can you run a service company when you don't understand how the customers for your service use it out of the data box?

Tony P. said...

Ah, love at first byte!

She had me with that "kick ass" statement.

JD 'mingling' with the common folk? Puhleeze! He'd have to get a whole case of PURELL. And a clue.

nadine said...

Scot Wingo's notes from the investor conference show that JD has learned absolutely nothing from the disaster that was eBay Q4. It's damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. JD has the magic data that tells him the customer wants exactly what JD is dishing out to him. eBay is on the right course, no major problems exist. Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?

ufb. How long is this going to go on?

Anonymous said...

I read Wingo's notes too. Major lifting still to be done in 2009. Full speed ahead, you betcha.

There is such a huge disconnect between Donahoe and his users. When he uses the term "users", I'm not sure who he's even talking about, buyers or sellers?

Randy Smythe said...


It will continue until there is a new CEO. Who knows how long that will be the company lost another $1 billion in market cap today.


Disconnect is an understatement :)

nadine said...

When JD refers to 'users' he always means the buyers, the only people he considers customers.

Sellers he regards as a necessary evil. He's trying to fire the obstreperous fleamarket kind and replace them with a more professional class who won't yell at him so much. I think part A of that plan is going faster than part B.

ms.pat said...

I really have to wonder what in the world Meg was thinking of in grooming Donahoe for the top spot. I guess Ebay really did grow and prosper in spite of her "guidance". I also noticed something kind of pecular...Pierre said he won't vote for her if she runs for California governor...honest, he said that!

If this next disastrous quarter doesn't get the board's attention then there is NO hope left! The whole company has to collapse before Donahoe will pick up his marbles and leave peacefully.

The only good thing to possibly come out of it all is a textbook case on how NOT to change your business model.

Mike said...


I beg to differ.

John Donahoe most certainly does interact with his customers.

See link below.

2009 and 1/2 or Bust said...

Over the last 12 months, eBay stock is down 58.75% and Amazon is up .5% and if you think JD is getting heat from eBay sellers, imagine what is getting from the Board and institutional investors.

JD's PR blunders coupled with the stock falling off the cliff would seem to number his days. If you want to know how much leadership's personality matters as part of an overall corporate presence, just go ask the folks at Apple and Amazon.

At this point, even the smallest bump in stock price as a result of regime change would have to be enthusiastically received by the eBay Directors and all those people who have lost millions over the last year with JD dancing on the deck of the Titanic.

Perhaps it is time for JD to go spend some more time with his family and pursue his political future.

Randy Smythe said...

2010 ... I mean 2009 and 1/2,

Based on the response to his Goldman talk last week the company lost another $1 billion in market cap in one day.

It took 1 1/2 years to oust Jerry Yang from Yahoo's CEO spot. JD has 7 months left to beat that timing, but my guess is he won't be gone until the end of the year unless he pulls a rabbit out of a hat.

Anonymous said...

I think the economic meltdown is going to save his job for at least this year.

nadine said...

otoh, why did the BoD move up the shareholders' meeting to April if they just intended to rubberstamp JD's strategy? They could have left it at June and spared themselves the effort.

Anonymous said...

My money's on

'It's Andreesen to the rescue'

Randy Smythe said...

It looks like the consensus is that he's gone and we are just debating when.

Anyone think he has a long-term future at eBay

Tony P. said...

Is this now a JD-bashing thread?

All-righty then! I'm game.

First, some basics that seem to be unknown to some.

JD came to ebay in 2005. Meg was, and still is, behind the changes. Pierre, as Chair of the BOD, is active in all of this.

IMO, that BOD is also very much active in all of this. If they are currently experiencing an open-mouth moment, they should look no farther than themselves for the answer.

Another IMO - the BOD didn't call for the stockholder meeting to be moved up, the institutional investors are behind that little detail.

Outside the door to that meeting, a concession selling torches and pitchforks just might be a winner!

As opposed to a "weiner", such as JD.

Anonymous said...

Tthis is off the subject, but I came across a new "Diamond Seller" today. Tigerdirect, top 25 retailer is now on ebay. Based on their feedbacks, this appears to be their first month on ebay, and they are already getting daily deal promotions.
Just thought I'd toss that out there.

Randy Smythe said...


I checked around with my sources and they don't think the move of the Annual meeting is anything more than changing it to a more convenient time.

They may be wrong, but I don't see anything big coming down the pike from the institutional investors.


Yep, TigerDirect has been on the site for awhile. The Daily deals are not only being offered to Diamonds but they are getting the lion's share of them.

nadine said...

Tony, Randy, yes of course the BoD was onboard with the changes since 2005. BUT until June or even September of last year, Wall Street was buying the story. Now they are not. That makes the difference between a stock that is worth about the same as 12 mo ago (AMZN) and one that is less than 40% what it was 12 mo ago (EBAY).

Amazon and eBay compete head to head, so everybody is noticing that eBay now has a great big "Loser" sign stuck to it. And "best Christmas ever" Amazon has a "Winner" sign.

Something has to give, whether a new CEO or a takeover bid. Donahoe looks like a good scapegoat to me. You know the old saying, "Victory has a thousand fathers but Defeat is orphan." The BoD can shift all the blame. Only question is when.

April 2009 or Bust said...


I was just thinking that exact same thing! In sports, they fire the manager -- not the players or the general manager who put together the team.

I know 8ML isn't what it used to be, but I think JD will be okay.

As the Don wisely said, This is business, not personal.

Okay...when you stress out hundreds of thousands of people, lose ba-jillions of $$$ in stock value and threaten the incomes of hard working Americans with MBA/Bain high-concept-off-kilter business theories during the worst economic downturn in 60+ years, I guess it is a little personal too!

Randy Smythe said...

Nadine and Bust,

eBay is having an analyst day up in San Jose on the 11th. If it is anything like the Goldman Sachs presentation, the stock may tank again.

No matter how I look at this now, I can't see them punching JD's ticket at least until the end of the year.

If JD is not the problem then he needs to remove the brain trust in charge of the marketplace.

nadine said...

If it's anything like the Goldman Sachs presentation? Randy, how could it be different? There are going to be the same questions asked - does anything think the answers will be substantially different?

JD is stuck on stupid here. He is committed to his chosen course and can do no more than trim around the margins. The braintrust running the marketplace is JD's braintrust. He can go forward or backpedal, and he probably figures that backpedalling would tank the stock even worse than going forward. He probably still has faith in his ideas, even if no one else does.

As the punchline of the old, old joke goes, "...or the horse might talk."

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