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For Marissa Mayer, the final reward for failure at Yahoo amounts to $23 million

Marissa Mayer
Reuters/Elijah Nouvelage
Not a bad pay day.
  • Ashley Rodriguez
By Ashley Rodriguez


Published This article is more than 2 years old.

When Marissa Mayer joined Yahoo as CEO in July 2012, expectations that she would revive the staid internet company were so high that some employees reportedly made posters of Mayer in the style of Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” ad, from Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid.

Engineers and product managers hoped that the longtime Google executive would bring a renewed focus on product back to the tech company, which had been prioritizing its more lucrative media and advertising businesses. And her reputation afforded her a huge contract.

“My goals are simple: to execute faster, hire top talent, and make Yahoo the absolute best place to work,” Mayer said during her first earnings call as CEO. “The future of Yahoo is extraordinarily bright.”

After about four years of declining revenue, layoffs, a weird Hail Mary acquisition, and mounting pressure—but also a rising share price due to Alibaba—Mayer conceded that she couldn’t save Yahoo, and sold it instead to Verizon. The US telecom agreed to pay nearly $4.5 billion for the company’s core business—and that was after a discount triggered by two massive data breaches, which Yahoo failed to disclose before the initial deal.

Like many other failed CEOs before her, Mayer could still walk away with a handsome payout. She will receive a $23 million “golden parachute” package if she is terminated or resigns for good reason within a year of the sale, Yahoo disclosed in a regulatory filing today. That includes $3 million in cash, $20 million in equity, and about $25,000 in continuing medical benefits.

It’s a lot of money, but less than Mayer may have expected. As of last May, she was estimated to receive a $55 million severance package if she was fired after the sale, according to Variety. She also had to forgo her cash bonus for 2016 and any potential stock-based bonus for 2017, because of the data breaches that occurred under her watch.

Business Insider also previously reported that Mayer and Yahoo employees would get a big payday if they were fired without cause or resigns with reason after the Verizon acquisition because of an unusual ”double trigger” provision in the deal that is meant to protect founders in the event of a takeover but, in this case, applied to hired gun Mayer and her entire team.

Mayer said in January that she would resign from her post if and when the sale went through. She is expected to remain on for a period during the transition. She has reportedly earned more than $150 million since joining Yahoo.

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