Carol Bartz, former chief executive at software services company Autodesk, has accepted the chief executive job at Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal and BoomTown are reporting. Bartz has years of experience leading Autodesk and serving on the boards other technology giants like Cisco and Intel. Although her experience is in tech-heavy companies, not Yahoo’s core business of consumer web services and advertising, she’s one of the more respected executives in the Valley.

So Bartz is a conservative choice, as BoomTown noted when it reported last week that she was in the lead for the job. Her experience leading 7,000-person Autodesk through the dot-com crash may position her well to help 14,000-person Yahoo handle what is almost certainly going to be a hard year in advertising. Perhaps she will clean out the bloated layers of mid- and upper level management at Yahoo — the cause of much dissatisfaction within the company, and attrition, as many current and former Yahoo employees have told us.

Yahoo, from a product perspective, still has the largest presence on the web. It also needs a product-driven CEO to unite disparate properties like email, its various social networking efforts, photo-sharing site Flickr and many other web services — and to make them more relevant to other web innovations. That effort is already underway, as seen in Yahoo’s new efforts to offer a developer platform, and to expand Yahoo services to mobile devices and television sets.

To be successful, Bartz will have to both reshape the business at a tough time for it and for the industry, and make it a product leader again.

[photo: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times]