Who Is Yahoo's New CEO Really Working For?

Carol Bartz's discreet sale of company stock to the tune of $2 million rubs pundits, shareholders the wrong way

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Everyone's lining up to wallop Carol Bartz, the new Yahoo CEO, after it was revealed in the Sunday Guardian that she offloaded roughly $2 million of her own company's stock between February and June. Is Bartz one of a series of Yahoo robber-barons, or merely a victim of bad timing? Commentators offer their takes:

  • 'Stench of Disloyalty'  Mike Abundo of 901am uses many adjectives to describe Bartz's behavior at Yahoo, none of them good. He claims that her decision to dump Yahoo stock can't be anything other than a premeditated crime, given the time line of events leading up to Yahoo's sale of its search-engine to Microsoft: "If selling off newly-acquired stock right before eviscerating your company doesn’t stink of disloyalty, I don’t know what does." 
  • Judging Too Hastily  CEO blogger Penny Herscher faults the rest of financial-blogosphere for recklessly judging Bartz's move without taking it in proper context. Herscher's contention is that Bartz, who owes "at least 2.6$M in tax" was not acting inappropriately by selling her Yahoo stock to pay the government. On the contrary, "It is absolutely normal for executives and board members to put plans in place (governed under rule 10b5-1 so they are not insider trading) to sell some restricted stock at the time of the grant in order to pay the tax due. When the tax bill is over $2M it makes basic business sense to do this."
  • Yahoo = Den of Thieves?  At Silicon Alley Insider, writer Nicholas Carlson riffs off a hedge fund manager's findings that Bartz is just one of the many Yahoo insiders who have flipped company stock options to line their pockets recently, prompting this brilliantly cynical simile of a title: "Insiders Treat Yahoo 'Like It's Their Personal ATM.'"
  • Pity the Real Investors  Matt Hartley, who thinks that Yahoo's authentic backers are in for a long period of suffering under Bartz, sighs: "While the big boss is selling stock, brokering deals with the competition, and basically acting like a cheerleader without any real clear purpose to her cheers, Yahoo! continues to burn."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.