MIAMI, 28 OCTOBER 2009 - Channeling Aretha Franklin, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz told investors and financial analysts on Wednesday that the company is working hard to regain the respect it has lost in the market.
Bartz, known for her no-nonsense demeanor and spicy vocabulary, spoke with more vehemence than usual, labeling her company's 6 percent operating margin as "pathetic" and acknowledging Yahoo "somehow got boring" and confused users, clients and analysts about its mission.
But she promised that the company is at a turning point. "Today is the beginning of a journey back to respect," Bartz said during her opening remarks, which were webcast.
"We're not here to 'wow' you today, but we're here to intrigue you and impress you and we're going to work really hard to do that," she added.
The event, scheduled to last 7 hours, will focus on highlighting what Bartz described as the company's impressive breadth, which sets it apart from competitors and will be at the core of its resurgence.
About a dozen high-ranking officials are scheduled to speak, including CTO and Executive Vice President of Products Ari Balogh and Executive Vice President of Yahoo North America Hilary Schneider.
Bartz acknowledged struggling herself with the question of what Yahoo is when she took over as CEO in January of this year, so the company went out and talked to many users in about 10 countries.
It found out its users consider Yahoo their "home on the Internet," Bartz said.
"They come home to Yahoo. They tell us that," she said.
That gives Yahoo a user base of a scale and diversity that's unparalleled, allowing it to offer advertisers not only "a safe neighborhood" for their campaigns but also increasingly refined marketing insight.
"We are the largest communications engine in the whole world," she said.
"We're not a search company. We're not a display [advertising] company. We're a broad-based Internet technology company that serves up the most interesting content on the Internet to 600 million people. That's awesome," Bartz added.
Last but not least, Yahoo is highly motivated to stage a comeback. "We have fallen and we really want to get back up," she said.
Taking the stage after Bartz, Balogh kept hammering on the main topic of Yahoo's size and breadth, rattling off statistics: every day, Yahoo serves up 4.5 billion pages and 10 billion ad impressions, he said. Yahoo Mail has more than 300 million account holders. "That's big," Balogh said.
And yet, not big enough. "As impressive as that is, we see a tremendous opportunity for deepening engagement and for continuing to grow," he said.
Although users have more options than ever in terms of Web sites, having a trusted brand becomes increasingly important, which benefits Yahoo, according to Balogh.
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