Carol Bartz, the new CEO at Yahoo! is a risky choice.

To her credit, she has excellent operational credentials having been a CEO of a public company (AutoDesk) for a period of time, a high degree of personal toughness in her fight with cancer, her struggle to keep her work-family balance appropriate as discussed in the story in the, and being a woman in the software industry in a time where the number at the top of the largest organizations has declined in recent years.

It seems that Carol has demonstrated stamina and an ability to make tough decisions, something often considered as 'balls', and something that founder Jerry Yang lacked. 

On the other hand, balls alone isn't all that's required for a successful transformation of the company as big, pampered and as unwieldy as Yahoo! Yahoo!s strength today is in its portfolio approach. One that has been replicated by Google and one that has been ruthlessly targeted by the social networks darlings such as Facebook, MySpace and others.

Yahoo! needs portfolio management thinking. She needs strategy insight that shows the synergies (if there are any) between elements of the portfolio and that can lead to decisions to buy, sell, disengage and even to shift the workforce from low growth markets to high growth markets. She did not get this kind of experience at the single engineering software product-oriented AutoDesk. Her customer and industry knowledge there will not be helpful at Yahoo! which makes her a particularly risky choice.

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