Carol Bartz had some choice words for Yahoo’s Board of Directors in an interview with Fortune. But more than $10 million in compensation still owed to Bartz is apparently tied to a non-disparagement clause in her contract. Could that money now be in jeopardy?
Carol Bartz has some choice words for Yahoo’s Board of Directors. In an interview with Fortune, Bartz said, “These people fucked me over,” and later went on to say that they are “doofuses.” The problem is that Bartz is still owed about $10.4 million dollars in compensation, as well as vesting stock options, provided that shares reach certain milestones.
This compensation, however, was apparently tied to a non-disparagement clause in her contract. While saying that the Board fucked her over may be considered her perspective on what actually happened, insisting that the Board is a bunch of “doofuses” could be considered disparaging.
In the interview, Bartz described exactly how she was fired. She was in New York, she says, because she was scheduled to give a talk to a Citigroup technology conference on Wednesday. On Tuesday evening she had a call scheduled with Board Chair Roy Bostock, but when they spoke, he simply read her a statement prepared by the Board’s lawyers.
Never one to mince her words, Bartz responded by saying, “Roy, I think that’s a script. Why don’t you have the balls to tell me yourself?” Bostock continued reading, and Bartz simply replied, “I thought you were classier.”
She was notified then that she had two hours to tell the Board whether she would resign or they would have to fire her. When she learned that Yahoo’s lawyers were on their way to her hotel to hand her the papers, she simply moved to another hotel. Later that evening, she wrote her famous email to her staff, opening with, “I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s Chairman of the Board.”
It appears that Bartz’s ire is focused on the Yahoo Board (of which she is a member), and not on the company itself or even her replacement, Tim Morse. She called Morse “a great guy,” but added that the best person to replace her was … her.
When asked to explain why she was fired, Bartz attributed it to the Board’s impatience, and their insistence on rapid revenue growth “even though they were told that we would not have revenue growth until 2012.” She said the Board was “spooked” by the reputation it had earned after turning down a 2007 offer by Microsoft to buy Yahoo. “Now they’re trying to show that they’re not the doofuses that they are,” she said.
Enter “doofus,” the $10 million dollar word, defined as, “a foolish or inept person,” or “a slow-witted or stupid person.” According to the Dictionary of American Slang, it is probably related to “doo doo” or “goofus.” In her defense, Bartz could cite the Urban Dictionary, which defines it as “(a) kindly way of saying that one is stupid. Certainly much nicer than calling someone a fuckwit, anyway.” Or perhaps she could argue that the etymology of doofus is actually from the German doof, or deaf.
“They were told that we would not have revenue growth until 2012,” she said, but apparently they did not hear her, and that would make them doof.
Whatever the case may be, after almost three years at Yahoo, it is unlikely that the indomitable Bartz will want to forego that $10 million dollars.