Yahoo! has finally named a successor to former CEO Jerry Yang, former Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz, after a two-month search. Yahoo! stocks slipped a bit with the announcement, closing Tuesday at $12.05 after having opened at $12.37, though after-hours trading made up the difference. (The deal that fell apart last year between Yahoo! and Microsoft would have sold Yahoo!’s stocks at $31 a share, and was one of the major reasons for Jerry Yang’s downfall.) Said Yahoo! Chairman of the board Roy Bostock of Bartz: “She is the exact combination of seasoned technology executive and savvy leader that the Board was looking for, and we are thrilled to have attracted such a world-class talent to Yahoo!. She is admired in the Valley as well as on Wall Street for her deep management expertise, strong customer orientation, excellent people skills, and firm understanding of the challenges facing our industry.” Bartz faces many challenges, not least of them defining Yahoo!’s direction -- which under Yang could be generously described as nebulous -- as well dealing with results of Yahoo!’s recent layoffs and myriad other PR hits. Bartz’s selection has also rekindled speculation that Yahoo will sell to Microsoft or merger with AOL.

Critics fear that Bartz’s lack of experience in advertising, Yahoo!’s main source of revenue, will be a weakness for the new CEO, a weakness compounded by dire predictions for 2009 online advertising overall.

Yahoo president Susan Decker, who was also in consideration for the position, will leave Yahoo after a transition period. Former CEO Jerry Yang will retake his former position as Chief Yahoo!, dealing with strategy and technology.

[View Yahoo! press release]

By Mark Alvarez