Yahoo's first annual shareholder meeting with Carol Bartz as CEO was largely uneventful, as she promised to turn Yahoo around by focusing on content and organization.
The actual business of the meeting was brief: all 12 nominees up for reelection to the board of directors were approved, three company-sponsored proposals were approved, and a shareholder "say on pay" proposal was rejected. Bartz spent most of the meeting talking about the work she has been doing to get Yahoo back on track, emphasizing that Yahoo has a strategy; it just needs to "execute"--business-speak for "not screw up all the time."
"We try to make sure we have 'wow' experiences for anybody who comes to a Yahoo site," Bartz said. She reminded shareholders several times that Yahoo is as much a content company as a search company, calling Yahoo "the largest online media company." This, of course, deflects comparisons to Google, who's stock has dramatically outperformed Yahoo's over the last several years.
Shareholders asked few pointed questions during their turn at the microphone. Bartz was asked twice to defend Yahoo's commitment to human rights in China, at a time when the Chinese government seems to be playing a more active role in cutting off Internet access to topics it doesn't like.
She made it clear that Yahoo isn't crazy about such crackdowns, but also said "Yahoo was not incorporated to fix China."
One shareholder asked Bartz to stop "dumbing-down the home page," which tends to carry the celebrity gossip story of the day as its main item. Yahoo is working on ways to give users a "fluffmeter," as Bartz put it, where they could choose just how much Jon and Kate news they want to see when visiting Yahoo. Bartz didn't elaborate, but it seems that could come along with a home page redesign later this year.
And she nipped all speculation about Microsoft in the bud within about five minutes of her prepared remarks when she said "if we ever have a deal with Microsoft, it will be announced publicly, and until then there's nothing to say." That's a line straight out of a Public Relations 101 textbook, neither admitting nor denying that any such talks are ongoing, as Bartz has previously hinted to.
Bartz closed the meeting with a partial nod to the roller coaster ride Yahoo shareholders have been treated to over the past several years. "Thank you for being Yahoo shareholders, and thank you for having faith in us."