Yahoo planning more job cuts

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz is planning a new round of job cuts according to the reports as the company continues to cope with the aftermath of a downturn in online advertsing sales.

The New York Times and Reuters, citing several people with knowledge of the plans, said the layoffs could affect several hundred employees and may be announced as early as Tuesday when Yahoo reports its first-quarter earnings.

The cuts would be the first since Bartz joined the company as CEO in January.

Yahoo, which spent most of 2008 in a series of off-on merger/partnership talks with Microsoft, has already had two rounds of job cuts in the last year or so. It let go 1,000 staffers in early 2008 and cut another 1,400 at the end of last year.

According to reports, Bartz has renewed partnership discussions with Microsoft in recent weeks which will likely focus on outsourcing its search advertising business to the Seattle-based company according to reports. Keep an eye on:

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(Photo of Bartz courtesy of Yahoo)

Note to Yahoo’s Bartz: Ma company, Ma way

 Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz has earned a reputation as a strong-willed, no-nonsense executive.

But she may have her met match in Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of Alibaba, which owns and operates Yahoo China.

 “Personally I have a management philosophy: when you see someone in the kitchen, don’t give them directions. Let them do it,” Ma told Reuters during a visit to New York on Thursday. “I do it my own way. I don’t listen to Yahoo.”

Yahoo Big as Ever in Japan

Yahoo’s island of strength in Japan looks as impregnable as ever.

In January, Yahoo increased the number of searches performed on its Japanese sites by 13 percent year-over-year, and continued to hold the top spot with a 51.3 percent share of searches conducted in Japan, according to market research firm comScore.

Google, which is the No.1 search firm in the U.S. by a long shot, saw its search share in Japan slip to 38.2 percent, from 39 percent in September. Total searches on Google sites in Japan increased 5 percent year-over-year in January.

Yahoo’s star property in the land of the rising sun is actually a 34 percent stake in a joint venture with Softbank. The Japanese partnership is one of several that Yahoo has forged overseas, such as its deal with China’s Alibaba Group.

Yahoo’s Bartz hearts Google maps

Carol Bartz famously questioned the loyalty of Yahoo employees who dared leak her internal staff memos to the press.

But the CEO confessed to a lapse in loyalty of her own, on Tuesday, when it comes to one of Yahoo’s products.

“I don’t use Yahoo maps. I use Google maps. I’m just telling you,” Bartz told an audience member at the Morgan Stanley technology conference who had inquired about Google’s apparent mapping superiority.

Who’s who at Yahoo

As the smoke begins to clear in Sunnyvale, California, following Yahoo’s much-anticipated reorg, the first outlines of the company’s new look under CEO Carl Bartz are emerging.

The new regime’s big winners (or survivors, given the slew of recent departures including finance chief Blake Jorgensen on Thursday) are Ari Balogh and Hilary Schneider, both of whom appear to be two key lieutenants under Bartz.

Schneider, a former executive at newspaper publisher Knight Ridder, now reports directly to Bartz and sees her sphere of influence broaden from the U.S. to all of North America. Under Yahoo’s new structure, North America is one of two regions in which Yahoo does business. The International region, which encompasses the rest of the world, does not yet have a leader.

Yahoo unveils re-org, sort of

So Yahoo Chief Executive Carol Bartz finally unveiled on Thursday a much-anticipated management reorganization — well, kind of. She blogged about it in a post called “Getting our house in order” and she sent an internal email to employees. Another bunch of memos were also sent by various division heads, HR, etc.

But there was no official announcement for Wall Street analysts, investors or the press, except for an SEC filing announcing the departure of CFO Blake Jorgensen which didn’t mention the re-org at all. A Yahoo spokeswoman said there were no plans for a press release, calling the changes an internal matter. Hmmm.

Well, the moves were interesting enough for various analysts to weigh in. “We expect more significant restructurings and divestitures of various businesses will occur in the future as YHOO focuses on its core businesses. Also, while the timing is uncertain, we still believe a search deal with MSFT is likely,” wrote UBS’s Benjamin Schachter. He also notes that Yahoo has told him “unequivocally” that Jorgensen’s departure had nothing to do with the CFO’s comments yesterday on Yahoo being willing to sell search, which helped push Yahoo shares up 7 pct earlier.

A Yahoo and Microsoft deal? Search me

Two days ago, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Yahoo should team up with his company on search so they can take on Google. That’s not a new idea; after all, Ballmer’s been talking about a search deal of some sort at every public forum for months.

But then, Yahoo CFO Blake Jorgensen sent out a message loud and clear the following day, endorsing the idea of a search partnership. Yahoo is “not opposed” to doing a deal on search, he said, adding that such a deal could be in the form of a partnership or a sale of it search business. When Carol Bartz took over as Yahoo CEO last month, she said her first instinct was to hold on to search, but of course, “everything is on the table.”

So could something be brewing on that front?

Collins Stewart’s Internet analyst Sandeep Aggarwal thinks so. In a research note today, Aggarwal writes the “posturing” from both sides suggests that a search deal is in the offing:

Looks like Yahoo’s not buying Tumblr

Gawker/Valleywag created a bit of stir on the blogosphere Monday with its report that Yahoo was in talks to buy blogging startup Tumblr for “low to mid-eight figures,” or as much as $50 million.

From the post:

We hear the talks are serious, led by Tapan Bhat, a fast-rising executive in charge of Yahoo’s homepage and other key properties — but as with any acquisition talks, they could fall apart.

We figured Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz was too busy figuring out where Yahoo should seek growth and how to stem the leaky ship to pursue an acquisition. Sure enough, Silicon Alley Insider knocked down the Valleywag story by getting Tumblr founder David Karp on the record:

Facebook hotter than MySpace: Yahoo CEO Bartz

Facebook is hot, MySpace is not.  We didn’t say it, Yahoo’s new chief executive Carol Bartz did.

During Yahoo’s quarterly earnings call on Tuesday, one analysts asked Bartz what Yahoo’s strategy is for going after the younger demographic, i.e. the generation whose lives play out on social networks.

“That was one of the questions I asked the (Yahoo) board when I was speaking to them in November and December,” Bartz replied. “I have a 20-year-old and also two kids in their late 20s, so I’m very familiar with the Facebooks of the world and before that, MySpace, and see what the kids do. So I’m very curious about that demographic.”

Bartz’s idea of a joke: Yahoo could buy New York Times

Wall Street analysts pestered new Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz with all kinds of questions during her first quarterly earnings call, and she answered as candidly as she could, frequently pointing out the fact that she’s still learning the ropes and getting to know the business.

But Bartz couldn’t resist the chance to crack a joke when Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster asked her about Yahoo’s roadmap for 2009, and whether investors can expect any guidelines about when things might start rolling.

“Well, Gene, I thought I’d buy The New York Times tomorrow,” Bartz said.