Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz participated in a cozy little chat with TechCrunch CEO Michael Arrington earlier today during TechCrunch Disrupt. True to himself, Michael opened the chat by asking Carol “So how the fuck are you?” Niceties aside, Arrington got down to the nitty gritty.
There have been a couple of major changes over at Yahoo! in recent weeks. Personals are no longer a part of the site. Instead, Yahoo! and Match.com have teamed up to take dating to a new level. Additionally, the company just recently announced a deal with Nokia. Both of these moves show that the company is struggling to catch up and try to become the powerhouse they once were.
Michael asked some tough questions of Carol, such as: “How important is social to Yahoo?” Carol seemed to fumble through her answers at times, as though she wasn’t quite sure what to say. In response to that particular query, she quipped: “Back when social had a broad definition, you could almost say that Yahoo Finance chat was the first social product. We have a million comments a day now. We had 85,000 comments on day one at Yahoo News. And we’re merging in some of the big products like Twitter, etc. We’re doing some new cool things with Mail next month too. It’s about finding out the new things about people.”
I hate to tell you, Carol, but you guys are just a tad late to the party. If you want to consider the Yahoo Finance chat to have been the first social product, we’ll go ahead and give that to you. However, while other companies such as Twitter and Facebook have been dominating the field, Yahoo! has remained stagnant and forgettable. The claims of being “on 37 million of the 82 million mobile devices in the US.” honestly don’t ring very true. Take a glance around the Internet – ask people how often they use any of the Yahoo! site or services. I have a feeling you’ll be pretty shocked at the reply.
Arrington was ruthless in his questions to Carol regarding Google. He attempted to call her on a few things she has said in the past, when she claimed that Google “needs to grow a Yahoo every year — just go into a lot of businesses. They have to be a 20% grower.” What, exactly, are they supposed to be growing? Google has already carved out their niche, and they continue to expand on it nearly every day. Have we forgotten Google TV already, Ms. Bartz?
What bothers me most about this interview is Carol’s lack of professionalism. I don’t honestly care how much Arrington grills you… you don’t tell him to “fuck off” at the end of the interview. I know that she (and the audience) laughed it off, but it was a serious gaffe. She was frazzled by all appearances, and knew that Michael had gotten the best of her. Just moments earlier, she had stated that she is only “one of many” people who could do her job, and that that was “the beauty of it.”
Here’s a piece of advice: NEVER tell the world that others could do your job as well as you can, and then tell the CEO of a “very tiny” business such as TechCrunch to fuck off in front of a live audience. The point isn’t that she said it to Arrington. The point is that she said it at all. Sure, I curse on occasion. However, I don’t go around telling people to f*ck off when they have made me uncomfortable. You’re supposed to smile and nod your head. Give back as good as you get. Above all else… remain calm.
You get more flies with honey than you do with the F word. I’m willing to bet that the “many people” who could do her job wouldn’t have caused such an uproar.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that Carol’s send-off was appropriate, or something she should have likely kept to herself?