The Case For Carol Bartz

Mark May is a managing director and senior internet and digital-media research analyst at Needham & Company, LLC, a full-service growth-company investment bank.

My goal in writing this is not to argue that Carol Bartz is the best CEO I’ve come across over my 11 years as an internet analyst on Wall Street. But, while admittedly I’ve not had the luxury of hearing either of their full views (being limited to less than 140 characters of Twitter-ized commentary), the call by Rafat Ali and Chris Dixon — two very smart, accomplished and influential industry figures — for the firing of Yahoo!’s CEO Carol Bartz is shortsighted, in my opinion.

There seem to be either a lot of (or just enough) Bartz haters in media and blogger world these days. But when one looks beneath the surface of management sound bites and financial results out of context, there are some positive things that could be said if drumming up drama was not your primary motivation — that is, here are reasons to be hopeful for Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) and its CEO’s strategy. (Note: My firm, Needham & Co., doesn’t have any commercial relationships with Yahoo; it, like many other investment banks that cover internet companies, trades Yahoo stock on behalf of its clients.)

Consider these five positive things that Yahoo has accomplished or pursued under Bartz:

1) Taking on Google: Getting search right is critical. By not optimizing, you