Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) CEO Carol Bartz, never one to shy away from a microphone, was seemingly everywhere today: from her morning press conference with the CEO of Nokia (NYSE: NOK) to discuss their new partnership, then on to CNBC’s Sqawk On The Street, and finishing up with a noon fireside chat with Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington. In all the venues, the underlying message was that by handing off some services to others, Yahoo was more relevant than ever. And if that message didn’t necessarily resonate at the Techcrunch Disrupt conference, Bartz at least earned the audience’s approval by telling Arrington to “buzz off” (though, as is now expected, she did so in much more colorful terms.)
In what seemed like a good-natured talk among drinking buddies, Arrington persistently challenged her on Yahoo’s business and how it has lost ground in search to Google and on services to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). Bartz wouldn’t have it. For one thing, Bartz said that Yahoo still has branded search on its pages, with Microsoft’s Bing’s logo fairly downplayed. She also defended her tenure, saying she had only been in the CEO role for several months, arguing that it took Steve Jobs seven years at Apple to build the iPod and its affiliated products into a real business.
The real applause lines came as she tartly turned the tables on Arrington, telling him to rising cheers, “You’re involved in a tiny company, you probably don’t know what you want to do half the time. So f*ck off.”
She also said that Yahoo has a lot of various revenue streams, something that in time could give it more competitive advantages than a company like Google (NSDQ: GOOG). “I’m not saying they’re a one-trick pony, but 90 percent of what they do comes from search. All companies find that they have to diversify their sources of revenue. Why do you think Coke go into selling juices?”
Building up those revenue streams is why Yahoo feels it should sometimes tap experts — such as outsourcing personals to IAC’s Match.com or health news content to Healthline — yet somehow retain its “soul.”
That said, Bartz dismissed the notion that a company should have one singular person as its “embodiment” in the way image of Apple and Steve Jobs is so entwined. Arringston repeatedly asked Bartz if Yahoo product head Blake Irving is the company’s parallel to Jobs. “Most companies don’t have a Steve Jobs, most innovations come from several people in an organization.”