The word from a plugged-in Sunnyvale source: Bartz, who has been on the job less than three weeks, was instantly suspicious of Yahoo's attempt to ship its own branded cell phone. But she got the proof she needed, according to our source, when she saw her daughter play with a prototype of the smartphone preloaded with Yahoo services. Layne, now a junior at the University of Southern California, immediately put the One Phone away and switched back to her own cell phone.
The fallout, our source says: a top Yahoo mobile executive left, and others may have been fired.
A Yahoo flack issued a non-denial denial, flatly insisting the anecdote "has no basis in fact" and then declining to answer further questions about the phone project. As for the firings, she said she had no knowledge of any firings or staff departures. Motorola, and AT&T did not respond to inquiries on the matter.
But the mere fact that this anecdote is making the rounds, though, bodes well for Bartz. It may strike some detractors as an executive making flip decisions. Another way to look at it: Bartz is going by her gut and exercising a clear vision for what Yahoo will and won't do. When she was hired, many expressed doubts about Bartz's boring background in enterprise software sales. It may turn out, after all, that she is the product nazi Yahoo has long needed.