At least one reason Yahoo fired its CEO Carol Bartz on Tuesday, according to a report in today's The Wall Street Journal, was her "abrasive CEO style, including her frequent use of swear words." That famously filthy mouth is on full display today in Bartz's first post-Yahoo interview with Fortune, in which she is exceptionally honest about her view of the board that voted unanimously to ax her this week: "These people fucked me over," she said. Remembering the 6 p.m. phone call where she learned her fate, Bartz said Yahoo's chairman read from a prepared lawyer's statement. "Why don't you have the balls to tell me yourself?" she asked. "I thought you were classier."
Bartz's tough talk doesn't come from a momentary lapse — it's her default state. "The board was so spooked by being cast as the worst board in the country," Bartz told Fortune. "Now they're trying to show that they're not the doofuses that they are." When the reporter mentions her age, Bartz snaps back: "fuck you, yeah."
Although sexism has been floated as a possible factor in Bartz's firing (not to mention the lack of women in Silicon Valley) — and it's certainly at play in the mouths agape at the f-word — The New Yorker's Nicholas Thompson insists she "failed on her own merits," claiming that Yahoo "has not come up with one brilliant idea" since Bartz took charge more than two years ago.
Yahoo missed out on every tech trend of the past few years: social networking, location service, group deals, passive gaming, status updates. Yahoo once was the place that organized the Internet. Now, it’s a place for fantasy-sports leagues, stock prices, and inscrutable purple signs proclaiming, “It’s You.” What is Yahoo? Neither Bartz nor other executives have proven able to coherently answer that question.
But despite her open anger, Bartz insists she wants to be involved in the company and hopes to remain a Yahoo director. Asked about her successor as CEO she replied, "They should bring me in. I knew what to do."
Plus, she added, "I have way too many purple clothes."