Yahoo Confirms Exec Exodus, Bartz Urges Calm

CEO Carol Bartz is facing what may be the toughest challenge during her tenure since she took charge of Yahoo almost two years ago. The company confirmed late yesterday that three of its senior-most executives were headed for the door. Among them is Hilary Schneider, the company’s EVP Americas, who also had oversight of ad sales here.

In an e-mail memo obtained by Reuters, Bartz urged the troops to “stay calm.”

“We have a good plan in place,” she wrote. “In fact, I’m more fired up than ever and can roll with the punches.”

Aside from Schneider, the other two leaders to hit the road are David Ko, SVP of audience, mobile and local in North America; and Jimmy Pitaro, VP of Media. Schneider is staying on to help with the transition to a new Americas chief that Yahoo intends to appoint by year’s end.

Executive departures are nothing new under Bartz’s leadership (See Joanne Bradford, Mike Walrath, Holger Luedorf.

What’s unique about the current situation is that two of the departing folks, Schneider and Pitaro, were named to their current roles as part of Bartz’s early attempts to reinvent the company and sharpen its strategy. Their exit, amid slumping stock prices and tepid earnings, has led some in the investment community to conclude her vision has not revitalized the company and her blunt and blustery style is, to use a Texas catchphrase, “all hat, no cattle.”

Bartz’s main accomplishment to date is the successful completion of the Microsoft search deal. Other plans have come up short, including her pledge to improve efficiency in the ad buying ecosystem. Aside from incremental improvements Yahoo’s Right Media exchange, the company has made no major moves to ease the ad buying process.

Lower profile initiatives include reducing the company’s overhead through an aggressive cost cutting initiative begun in 2009, and the embrace of social networking functionality on its homepage and throughout its site.

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