Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Yahoo's Bartz fired, clouding future of GCI ad deal

Only days after expanding its ad-sales agreement with Gannett, Yahoo late yesterday abruptly fired CEO Carol Bartz, ending a rocky two-tenure and casting doubt on the future of its partnership with GCI.

Yahoo said Bartz, 63, will be replaced by Chief Financial Officer Timothy Morse on an interim basis. The company also said it had started a strategic review of its options. The company's shares jumped 6.3% in after-hours trading.

The original GCI agreement, announced in July 2010, had GCI employees selling online Yahoo ads to local businesses at virtually all the U.S. newspapers plus seven TV stations, with the companies sharing in the proceeds. COO Gracia Martore and other GCI executives trumpeted the deal's potential in the critical area of digital revenue growth, but never publicly detailed sales targets or results.

Deal results murky
"This partnership builds on the strength of Gannett's growing digital business and powerful local brands," Martore said, when the deal was first announced. "Working with Yahoo will allow us to offer targeted advertising messages with unmatched local audience reach."

In the company's second-quarter earnings announcement in June, GCI credited the partnership with helping drive a 12.2% increase in newspaper digital revenues, and a 29% jump in the broadcasting division. But it didn't break out Yahoo's contribution, and Wall Street analysts didn't question the impact during a conference call on the financial results release.

Just last week, GCI said the partnership would be extended to all 19 broadcasting division markets by February 2012. "We're focused on delivering strong results for our customers through unique marketing ideas and solutions," broadcasting division President Dave Lougee said in a statement.

Executives shuffled
Bartz' firing wasn't entirely surprising, although the timing was sudden. The company remains adrift despite management shuffles, layoffs and the shedding of underperforming services, The New York Times says.

Under Bartz, Yahoo had experienced significant management upheaval. Just three months after announcing the GCI deal last year, the Yahoo executive overseeing the arrangement -- Hilary Schneider -- was ousted. Only last week, Yahoo's front page editor, Liz Lufkin -- a former USA Today deputy managing editor -- was dismissed during a reorganization of editorial operations.

Related: Yahoo statement on Bartz' dismissal.


  1. Yes, and whose dumb idea was it to link up with Yahoo in the first place? Why when there is Google would anyone wish to deal with Yahoo? Why is it this company seems always to make the absolutely worst decision, and then worsens the situation by refusing to admit they made a mistake?
    (apologies to those with handicaps for choice of words).

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  4. How does the firing of Yahoo's CEO "cloud" the company's deal with Gannett? None of the coverage of the leadership transition even hints that "doubt is cast" on the Gannett ad deal or any other legally binding contract made with Yahoo, for that matter.

  5. Note to GCI's board of directors: The Yahoo directors fired Bartz over the phone, according to CNBC today. You might consider a similar approach for dealing with GCI execs who have been screwing up. In plainer language: you don't have to wait for your meeting to do the right thing.

  6. p.s. If you are worried about making a mistake, Gannett's employees will tell you. Why not listen to them for a change, and just take the first step?

  7. Gannett can sure pick the right people and projects to go in with. Bartz is fired from Google and Groupon cancels their IPO. Good thing Gannett isn't invested heavily with Yahoo or daily deal shopping sites. Oh wait....

    On a related note, Bartz was fired via a phone call and people feel bad for her. I do to, it's a completely classless way to fire someone. Now would someone pass that on to Gannett. At my Gannett site people are routinely fired via phone call. Usually when they are driving in to work or on their way home from work.

  8. Bartz was foul-mouthed and The Big G got taken advantage of in the worst way. Time for Big G fools to get canned to. Interested in the golden parachute that Bartz must have negotiated before she got hired.

  9. Yahoo did nothing for our paper. Nothing. Too expensive for our smaller market.

  10. Saradakis said before he left Gannett, that the Yahoo partnership will be a disaster. I think he was right again. It IS a disaster and Dickey and Martore are still deceiving the board and management that they will add "$55 million" in incremental, new revenues!

    Now that Carol Bartz (Gracia's soul sister) is gone, I doubt the program will have anymore support.

    Short tail Media to the rescue...Oh, sorry that failed too!


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