Can Carol Bartz pull Yahoo out of its funk?

I read over on Kara Swisher’s blog that Carol Bartz, former CEO of Autodesk, is taking over as Yahoo’s CEO.

Well, this is an improvement because at least Carol can spell technology, unlike other previous Yahoo CEOs.

But, can she pull Yahoo out of its funk?

First, remember that Yahoo is still one of the biggest web sites out there. Yes, its PR is terrible. Yes, it has lost many, if not most, of its smartest people. Yes, Google has just out played it in nearly every way. Yes, Microsoft cut off one of its legs. Yes no one I know is excited about Yahoo anymore. My early-adopter friends are even blase about Flickr now.

But Yahoo still has hundreds of millions of people who visit its home page, use its search, use its email, or use its instant messaging service.

Carol’s job #1 is to focus on those. She better — in her first month — find all 14 smart people still left at Yahoo and bring them together to reinvigorate those services, integrate them together, and start work on a live-web service that will look something like Facebook or friendfeed. Do that and Yahoo might live to see another day.

Of course that means pissing off tech bloggers like me who want new features in “the sexy services” at Yahoo like Upcoming.org, flickr, etc.

But Yahoo is in a good position — if it builds a decent news feed like what friendfeed and facebook have and does it quickly. That is the key to integrating all of its services together (and giving its sexy services like Flickr and Upcoming.org a shot).

Demonstrate that Yahoo has a clue about the “live web” and it has a shot. Google hasn’t demonstrated it understands that yet. In fact, Google has been really demonstrating deep cluelessness with how it is handling Feedburner. Microsoft hasn’t demonstrated it yet. They are still bragging to themselves that they could build a Twitter clone in a week in Silverlight and Microsoft Mesh.

Carol has one shot to pull up on the stick at Yahoo. One engine is still sputtering in that plane and it just might pull out of its dive. Here’s hoping that Carol finds those smart people and does something fast.