Everything You Want to Know About the Life of Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz

Carol Ann Bartz, who was born August 28, 1948, is an American business executive, former president and CEO of the internet services company Yahoo!, and former chairman, president, and CEO at architectural and engineering design software company Autodesk.

Early Life and Education of Carol Bartz

Carol Bartz was born in Winona, Minnesota. She is the daughter of Shirley Ann (née Giese) and Virgil Julius Bartz. Her mother passed away when Carol was just eight years old. After few years, Bartz and her younger brother, Jim, moved from Minnesota across the Mississippi River to the place of their grandmother, Alice, on a dairy farm near Alma, Wisconsin.

In high school, Bartz was an excellent mathematics student and was also a homecoming queen. She started college at William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, and afterward shifted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1971. While in college, she worked as a cocktail waitress to support her studies finances. Bartz also has two half-brothers and two half-sisters, all residing in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Carol Bartz has also bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree in 2002 from New Jersey Institute of Technology, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and an honorary Doctor of Letters degree from William Woods University.

Career of Carol Bartz

In 1976, Carol Bartz went to serve at the manufacturing conglomerate 3M but resigned after her request to shift to the headquarters was rejected. Bartz transferred on to the computer industry, including jobs at Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun Microsystems.

Carol Bartz as a CEO of Autodesk

She became CEO of Autodesk in 1992. According to Forbes, Bartz “transformed Autodesk from an aimless maker of PC software into a leader of computer-aided design software, targeting architects and builders.” She is associated with instituting and promoting Autodesk’s “3F” or “fail to fast-forward” concept – the notion of making a company risk failure in some missions but of being resilient and move on immediately when the failure happens. She stepped down as CEO in 2006 and became the executive chairman of the board.

During her 14-year time period as the company’s CEO, Autodesk’s net revenue considerably increased, and year-end revenue increased from $300 million to $1.5 billion, with the stock price growing an average of 20 percent annually.

Carol Bartz worked on several boards of directors, including those of Intel, Cisco Systems, Autodesk, BEA Systems, Network Appliance, and the Foundation for the National Medals of Science. Additionally, she has been a member of the United States President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Carol Bartz as a CEO of Yahoo!

On January 13, 2009, Bartz was elected as CEO of Yahoo!, the Internet services company that turned the fourth most-visited Web domain name globally, succeeding co-founder Jerry Yang. During a conference call with financial analysts later in January 2009, she declared her purpose to make sure Yahoo! got “some frigginbreathing room” so the company could “kick some butt.” Rob Hof of Business Week was skeptical that Bartz or anyone else could protect the company: “… it’s not yet clear if Bartz can turn Yahoo around no matter how good she may be.” 

In May 2009, Reuters stated that she had already “worked through an impressive checklist” at her new company, “upending the organizational structure, replacing executives and cutting costs, including 675 jobs, or 5 percent of the workforce.” Analysts explained her efforts as specifically what the company required, but, as reporter Alexei Oreskovic observed:

For Yahoo’s ranks, still shell-shocked from deep cuts in 2008 – including 1,600 axed jobs – the hope that Bartz brings is increasingly mixed with a dose of fear and uncertainty. Yet broad support remains for Bartz despite the tough talk, canceled holiday parties and forced vacations that have come to define her era.

With a new series of job layoffs and the removal of several Yahoo! sites, “anxiety within the ranks has been exacerbated by what some say is a growing sense of secrecy“, for which Bartz has a notable reputation: “The informal flow of information once common within the company has come to a halt.” Bartz was also quoted to have said that she would “drop-kick to fucking Mars” employees who leak to the press. Oreskovic quoted a fearful anonymous insider: “We are all sort of wanting to believe in her because we really want to see Yahoo! turned around, but it still doesn’t make it any less scary when you don’t hear about what’s coming up. Everything is on a need-to-know basis.

At her one-year mark at Yahoo in January 2010, Bartz gave herself a “B-” grade for the job done in 2009: “It was a little tougher internally than I think I had anticipated. I did move fast, but this is a big job.” Others in the media, however, ranked her job higher given the trials she had to handle.

When Yahoo hired Bartz in early 2009, she was paid a yearly base salary of $1 million. She was qualified for an annual 400% bonus and received 5,000,000 shares in addition to an equity grant of $18 million of stock to reimburse for the forfeiture of the value of equity grants and post-employment medical coverage from her previous employer. In 2010 Bartz was named “most overpaid” CEO by proxy voting firm Glass-Lewis when she received $47.2 million in compensation.

On September 6, 2011, Bartz was dismissed from her position at Yahoo! (via phone call by Yahoo Chairman Roy Bostock), and CFO Tim Morse was elected as Interim CEO of the company. Bartz notes that Roy was physically 20 minutes away from her when she was fired, noting that “he didn’t have the nerve to see [her] face to face” and later stated that the board “fucked me over”. Bartz showed her desire to continue on the Board of Directors. However, on September 9, 2011, Bartz quit the position of the Board of Directors of the company.

Personal life of Carol Bartz

She is a survivor of breast cancer. She is married to Bill Marr, who is a former executive at Data General and Sun Microsystems. They have three children together: Bill, Meredith, and Layne. Her hobbies include golf, tennis, and gardening.

On managing a career with family, Bartz says: “I have a belief that life isn’t about balance, because balance is perfection … Rather, it’s about catching the ball before it hits the floor.

Carol Bartz Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

  • I became a sales manager at Digital Equipment, promoted from within the sales team. My peers were less than excited that I had gotten the job, especially one of my male peers who said he just wasn’t going to work for a woman.
  • Google is a fierce competitor. I wish I was worth a bazillion dollars; that would be really nice. They’re a fierce competitor, and they’re very good in search. They’re very good with their global map thing.
  • It’s very, very hard to affect culture. And you can get surprised thinking you’re farther down the path of change than you really are because, frankly, most of us like the way things are.
  • When trouble strikes, which it always does – bad economy, bad quarter, activists, takeover – when trouble strikes, those board members who don’t understand or are not committed are not helpful.
  • Any leader needs to be constantly interested in what’s going on in the world, and constantly ready – even when things are going well – to change.
  • Any leader needs to be constantly interested in what’s going on in the world, and constantly ready – even when things are going well – to change.
  • If I had my way, I wouldn’t do annual reviews, if I felt that everybody would be more honest about positive and negative feedback along the way. I think the annual review process is so antiquated.

Final Words:

Carol Bartz’s story is a very encouraging one. In the midst of judgments from topmost voices on the Internet, she succeeded in holding her head up and shoulders high. She is undoubtedly the inspiration for many emerging entrepreneurs, and her life can be a guidance for them.