Biography of Carol Bartz, Former CEO of Yahoo

Former Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz speaking.
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Carol A. Bartz was born August 29, 1948, in Winona, Minnesota. Her mother died of a devastating chronic disease when she was only eight years old. For the next four years, Bartz cared for her younger brother, Jim. Each day, she would drop him off at a babysitter on her way to elementary school and pick him up on her way home.

Ill-equipped to raise his family alone, Bartz's father was heavy-handed and used a belt for discipline.

Bartz married Bill Marr, and together they have three children.

When Bartz was twelve, she and her brother, Jim, were rescued by their grandmother, Alice Schwartz, who raised both children. Bartz thrived under the loving care and guidance of her grandmother.

During high school, Bartz was made homecoming queen and was a majorette. But Bartz was already breaking down gender barriers when she became one of only two girls in her school to take physics and advanced algebra classes.


While still in high school Bartz began work at a bank as a secretary. She worked her way up to bank teller, earning 75 cents per hour. An excellent worker, she found favor and earned the respect of her managers who later helped her obtain a scholarship to attend William Woods, an elite all-girls college in Fulton, Missouri.

To supplement her scholarship, Bartz worked in the college cafeteria; a humbling experience as most of her classmates came from affluent families.

She continued her education at the University of Wisconsin while working as a cocktail waitress and earned a BA in Computer Science in 1971.

Bartz Quits 3M After Suffering Discrimination on the Job

Bartz joined 3M in 1972 as the only woman professional in a division of 300 men. She faced repeated acts of discrimination and quit in 1976 after being refused a transfer to headquarters. In an interview with More Magazine, Bartz recalls, "They told me to my face, 'Women don't do these jobs.'" She replied, "I'm out of here," and she immediately quit.

Her decision to leave 3M was not an admission of defeat; quite the opposite. Bartz knew she was capable of accomplishing bigger and better things and if 3M were not interested in offering her growth opportunities, she would find them elsewhere.

And, she did.

Autodesk, Inc.

In 1992, at age 43, Bartz took the position of CEO for Autodesk, Inc., a moderate-sized computer-aided software design company with average earnings of $300 million. In 1993, Bartz purchased AutoDesk from founder Carl Bass, who she fired shortly after that. Realizing that Bass was an integral part of the business she quickly rehired him.

During her impressive 14-year reign as CEO, she turned Autodesk into a software giant earning more than $1.5 billion in annual revenue in 2008.

Her Battle With Breast Cancer

A few days before Bartz began as CEO of Autodesk, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She delayed treatment for one month and only took only one month off to undergo and recovery from a mastectomy and trans flap surgery. She worked during the entire seven months of her brutal chemotherapy.

But Bartz has different advice for other women; "Please tell people that when doctors say it takes six weeks to recover, you shouldn't go back to work after four," she says. "Missing work those two weeks wouldn't have killed anybody. And it was really tough on me. I should have stayed home."


In January 2009, Bartz took the helm of Yahoo!, Inc. as CEO. In typically bold, down-to-earth Bartz style she spoke her mind in a blog post to Yahoo! employees: "Look for this company's brand to kick ass again."

Bartz led with a consumer-based vision: "Who wants innovation for innovation's sake if it doesn't make your life easier, more efficient, more productive? So expect us to hear you better and take better care of you."

In September 2011, Carol Bartz was fired by Yahoo!"