Blog Post

Yahoo’s Bartz: ‘Things Seem To Be Returning To A Normal State’

Some cautious optimism from Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz who said that the company’s business improved significantly during the fourth quarter, compared to the previous quarter. She noted that the company’s search revenue — and display ad revenue — had both grown sequentially. Huge caveat here, though, considering that both figures were down year-over-year.

Bartz did acknowledge, however, that her first year on the job had been “very bumpy:” “Frankly, like lots of business leaders, (I’m) very glad it’s over,” she said. But, given the economic difficulties, Bartz said, the company’s 10 percent year-over-year decline in revenue was “pretty darn good,” especially when compared to the results of traditional media firms. (Talk about lowering the bar.)

Some highlights:

More acquisitions coming: Yahoo recently sold its Zimbra e-mail and communications platform and has put up a series of its businesses for sale but Bartz said divestments would not be an emphasis this year. “Sure there might be a few,” she said. But “2010 is about acquisitions and investments to make Yahoo even stronger.”

Bartz said that the company was targeting content companies, as well as firms that had strengths in key geographies. She said however that the company didn’t have plans for “big acquisitions.”

Hiring: After going through several rounds of layoffs over the last year-and-a-half, Yahoo is hiring again. CFO Tim Morse said the company had added 700 employees during the quarter.

Marketing campaign: The company’s $100 million ad campaign is moving into “product-focus mode.” Asked about the campaign’s performance so far, Bartz said that the first phase of the campaign had been about reacquainting consumers with the Yahoo brand, not about driving user behavior.

Home page: Yahoo is getting rid of the much-maligned pop-ups on its home page. Bartz said that there were “people we were driving crazy” with the pop-ups — and advertisers had complained that their home page ads were being covered.

Search: Despite its falling share of the search market, Bartz said that the company’s search business was “picking up steam,” citing once again the sequential increase in the company’s search revenue. She reemphasized that the company’s search business was a “priority” and would be featured in the company’s ad campaign.

Display: Bartz said that the company’s competition here is television — and that it therefore would increasingly emphasize video.

Paid content: So what does Bartz think about the topic du jour? She says that “a lot of content isn’t unique enough” to charge for, so she doesn’t expect any big changes in the online content business model “overnight.”