Carol Bartz hasn’t been shy about her lack of fondness for Yahoo’s products (she has even confessed to using Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Maps). So what’s she doing about it now that she’s running the company? In a sitdown with Thomas Weisel analyst Christa Quarles yesterday, Bartz, in an effort to underscore that the company’s near-term focus is on its homepage and anchor products, said that the Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) has tested 141 different versions of the homepage in search of one that will get users to stick around for longer. Quarles also said Bartz hinted she may create a new C-Level position to lead a move to a common platform and API (currently Yahoo’s homepage takes 33 different code bases to produce).
The interview, which Quarles wrote up this morning, was one of two analyst reports out today on Yahoo’s direction under Bartz. There has been no shortage of speculation about where she plans to take the company, and she herself has been fairly public about at least some elements of her strategy. Today both Quarles and analyst Gene Munster from Piper Jaffray chimed in with their thoughts on her first couple of months in office. The consensus: she’s right to focus on refining the company’s best products rather than desperately trying to stem the ad-revenue bleeding.
Munster’s takeaways, after the jump
Quarles said she likes that there will be a shift away from having product silos (each each product — Finance, News, Sports, Entertainment, etc. — has had its own dedicated legal, finance and customer-service teams). In the new, more corporate structure, many of these positions will oversee a number of different products; it is aimed at cutting costs and boosting efficiency and innovation. Quarles also reported that Bartz’s next hire looks to be a Customer Advocacy position, which will help put more scrutiny on how Yahoo’s audience is interacting with the company’s products on a daily basis. Quarles says that while she is impressed with Bartz’s strategy, executing on it is another challenge altogether.
Munster didn’t interview Bartz, but agreed with many of Quarles’ takeaways. He likes the idea of creating a homepage with content and services from many different sources. (He offered the recent addition of MySpace access as an example.) Munster would like to see Yahoo pull in even more content and services from outside the domain, through acquisition or partnership. Munster echoed Quarles’ view that cutting non-core services (like FareChase) was key, and said he expected more mid-level staff to be cut as the new management structure starts to take shape.