Yahoo CEO Bartz is fired

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has been fired – by telephone. The move’s a sudden one, with chief financial officer Tim Morse being named by the board as interim CEO while the company finds a permanent replacement.

While knife-wielding chairman Roy Bostock made a point of defending Bartz from criticism from shareholders in June, he was presumably crossing his fingers behind his back.

“The Board sees enormous growth opportunities on which Yahoo can capitalize, and our primary objective is to leverage the company’s leadership and current business assets and platforms to execute against these opportunities,” said Bostock, announcing the reoganization.

“We have talented teams and tremendous resources behind them and intend to return the company to a path of robust growth and industry-leading innovation. We are committed to exploring and evaluating possibilities and opportunities that will put Yahoo on a trajectory for growth and innovation and deliver value to shareholders.”

Bartz was hired with great fanfare in January 2009 after the company rejected a takeover offer from Microsoft. Since then, though, she’s failed to turn the company around. The company’s share price has remained at much the same, rather moribund level since Bartz’s appointment.

About all that can be said for Bartz’s tenure is that her proclivity for swearing has at least done something to raise the company’s profile.

So, too, unfortunately, did Yahoo’s public spat with Alibaba, in which it owns a 43 percent stake, over the Alipay online payments platform in China. Yahoo claimed that Alibaba transferred Alipay to a company owned by Alibaba’s CEO, without authorization from the Yahoo board.

To give Morse a hand, the board’s created an Executive Leadership Council, which will also carry out a major review of the company’s  strategy. It’s using headhunters to try and find a permanent replacement as quickly as possible.

The company may end up being bought out. Alternatively, it could sell off its successful Asian operations.