Marissa Mayer Led Yahoo Into The Ground For Four Years, And Now Could End Up With $219 Million To Leave The Company

Marissa Mayer may have presided over the decline of internet giant Yahoo, but the company’s embattled CEO could still stand to make a cool $55 million if she chooses to step down after the acquisition by Verizon.

Verizon Communications announced on Monday the completion of its $4.83 billion acquisition of the core business for Yahoo. The move actually brings Yahoo on board in the same company with its former rival, AOL, which Verizon acquired last year for $4.4 billion.

Though many analysts blame Mayer’s missteps for hastening Yahoo’s decline, she still stands to make a fortune in the form of a golden parachute payment of roughly $54.9 million, USA Today reported. Should she choose to leave her position – which, so far, Mayer has said she does not plan to do — she would be in line to make a total of $218.9 million between severance pay and her total cash and stock options. For just four years at the top.

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Despite the sad ending for two companies that were once internet giants, the Los Angeles Times noted there could still be profitability in the future for Yahoo.

“Both [AOL and Yahoo] offer a cautionary tale of how an Internet titan can quickly turn into an also-ran,” the report noted. “But together, analysts said, they provide Verizon a key foothold in digital advertising — a potentially lucrative revenue stream as the pool of new mobile and broadband customers dwindles.”

Marissa Mayer directly addressed Yahoo’s employees on Monday, writing a note that said the company was able to “change the world” and that it will continue to do so under Verizon.

This sale is not only an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo, it is also a great opportunity for Yahoo to build further distribution and accelerate our work in mobile, video, native advertising, and social. As one of the largest wireless and cable companies in the world, Verizon opens the door to extensive distribution opportunities. With more than 100 million wireless customers, a shared view of the importance of mobile and video ad tech, a deep content focus through AOL, Verizon brings clear synergies to the table.

Verizon did not purchase every part of Yahoo. The company’s cash was not part of the deal, and its shares in Alibaba Group — the popular Chinese commerce site — and in Yahoo Japan will become a publicly traded investment company, the Los Angeles Times reported. It was these assets that drove much of Yahoo’s profitability in recent years, analysts noted.

Though it has been no secret the potentially giant payment Marissa Mayer could receive by leaving Yahoo, the news that the acquisition was finalized brought new attention to her role in its decline and just how well she was compensated for doing it.

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Mayer doesn’t seem to be taking the criticism lying down. In a particularly candid interview published on Monday, she called out media coverage for treating her differently as a woman CEO.

“I’ve tried to be gender blind and believe tech is a gender neutral zone but do think there has been gender-charged reporting,” she told the Financial Times. “We all see the things that only plague women leaders, like articles that focus on their appearance, like Hillary Clinton sporting a new pantsuit. I think all women are aware of that, but I had hoped in 2015 and 2016 that I would see fewer articles like that. It’s a shame.”

It seems unlikely, at least for the moment, that Marissa Mayer will receive the nearly $55 million windfall by leaving Yahoo. The company’s CEO told investors on a conference call on Monday that loves Yahoo and is “excited to see it into its next chapter.”

[Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP Images]