Keep it classy, Yahoo and TechCrunch

Yahoo fires Carol Bartz over the phone, while three major egos duke it out at AOL. This hasn't been the Web's proudest week

It's been a hell of a week in high-tech land, unless you're the CEO of a tottering Web 1.0 empire. Then it's been just hell.

First, there's Yahoo. The Carol Bartz experiment is now over. After 30 months and a lot of F-bombs, the most visible woman in tech is back on the unemployment lines (though with a salary of $12 million last year and $47 million the year before, we suspect she can hire someone to wait in the lines for her).

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Unexpected? Not really. But calling Bartz and giving her the news over the phone is kind of like breaking up with your girlfriend via voice mail: "Sorry babe, it just wasn't working for me. But I'll always think of you as a friend. Is this still recording?" Classy move there, Roy Bostock.

Yes, Yahoo is a mess. But I don't blame Bartz. It was a mess before she got there, and it will continue to be a mess until Yahoo either does a final pirouette into the dust or gets snapped up by some other Web giant for a fraction of its one-time value, and then sliced into gyro meat.

I'm not sure what miracles Bartz was expected to pull off or if anyone could have done any better in her position. At least we didn't go through the Microsoft go-away-we-hate-you/please-come-back-we-didn't-really-mean-it drama again. She cut a deal with Ballmer and moved on. It just wasn't a very good deal from Yahoo's standpoint.

Meanwhile, over at AOL, the TechCrunch saga just keeps getting better and better. This plotline has had more twists and turns than a Spanish soap opera. First AOL announced that Michael Arrington was giving up the day-to-day oversight of TechCrunch to start a venture fund backed by AOL, but would still contribute editorially to the site, including writing about companies the fund invests in (aka ethics, schmethics).

The New York Times had the money quote from AOL chief Tim Armstrong: "We have a traditional understanding of journalism, with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it."

Mr. Crunchypants himself followed up with this howler: "I don't claim to be a journalist," Arrington said, though he breaks news and writes prolifically. "I hold myself to higher standards of transparency and disclosure."

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