Yahoo's Bartz Dissed by CES [UPDATE]

Last Updated Nov 11, 2009 9:10 AM EST

Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz had been listed as giving a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show. So it was particularly interesting when Eric Savitz at Barron's Tech Trader Daily noticed some evidence that just maybe she was no longer on the roster. And the fact that it could happen, accidentally or not, says a lot about Bartz's position in the industry.

As Savitz noticed, a release yesterday by the Consumer Electronics Association announced that Qualcomm CEO and chairman Dr. Paul E. Jacobs would deliver a keynote at the 2010 show, joining the CEOs of "Microsoft, Intel, Ford, Hisense and Nokia." Who wasn't mentioned? Bartz or Yahoo.

I went and checked the CES site and looked at the keynote speaker page. Not a sign of Bartz or Yahoo there, either. So she seems to be definitely off the keynote list, raising the question of why the sudden absence. It definitely does no good for her industry reputation. If there were a sudden problem, you'd think there would have been some sort of announcement with the appropriate regrets.

Perhaps she has to concentrate on tripling Yahoo's operating margins. Or maybe she wanted a monument but there wasn't enough room on the stage. But you'd think that someone who seems as relentlessly self-promotional as she would want to be acknowledged by the industry. That's what makes me think that the show dumped her over some dispute and got Jacobs instead. I can't imagine, say, Steve Ballmer getting the bounce, which suggests that her power position at the Internet company may be driven by a battery running out of charge.

[UPDATE: I received an email from a Yahoo PR person, who wrote, "Carol Bartz is not doing the keynote at CES in January 2010 due to a change in her calendar." So that's Yahoo's official story, at least.]

Anyway, I hear Qualcomm's operating margins are doing pretty well.

Image via stock.xchng user mzacha, site standard license.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.