Yahoo CEO Mayer to Get $23 Million Reward on Her Way Out

Golden parachute should keep her family comfortable for generations to come.

yahoo ceo marissa mayer

CEO Marissa Mayer may be on her way out of the Yahoo captain's chair, but she won't necessarily need to go knocking on doors looking for a new job. She'll have a smidgen of cash in the bank to help keep her family clothed, fed and housed for a while.

In fact, the family probably will be comfortable for a few generations, if she plans wisely--or maybe even if she doesn't plan wisely.

Mayer, who was recruited from Google in summer 2012 to try and straighten out the listing ship that was--and still is--Yahoo, will be awarded a rather comfy amount of money upon her departure. This is despite the fact that nothing she could do was able to save the web services pioneer from sinking beneath the waves of internet advertising competition from companies such as Google and Facebook.

The exact amount of her sendoff compensation, included in a March 13 SEC Schedule A proxy statement, is listed as $23,011,325; see Page 112 of the affidavit.

CEO Turns Down Bonus Money, Gives It to Staff

Earlier this month, Mayer chose to not accept a bonus check--possibly as much as $2 million--and a potentially lucrative stock award because the company determined her supervision of two major security breaches in the last three years was faulty. To her credit, she asked to have the bonus distributed among Yahoo employees.

The internal Yahoo investigation concluded that her management team reacted too slowly to the first breach discovered in 2014.

Those two well-chronicled security lapses exposed the personal information of more than 1 billion Yahoo users and cost the company $350 million in corporate value prior to its pending acquisition by Verizon Communications.

Yahoo admitted two major intrusions in 2016. One involving 500 million records was reported in August, and another involving 1 billion records was reported in December. The breach reported in August likely occurred in 2014, while the latter breach likely happened in 2013. The size of the breaches stunned security experts and threatened to derail the proposed buyout completely.

Management Didn't Act Quickly Enough When Breaches Hit

Even though Yahoo's security team found evidence that a hacker backed by an unnamed state-sponsored agent had accessed into user accounts in 2014, company decision-makers failed to act quickly enough with that knowledge, according to the results of an internal investigation included in the report. At the time, Yahoo managed to notify a mere 26 people that their accounts had been breached.

The internal report didn't identify any negligent executives by name, but it blasted the company's legal department for not looking more deeply into the 2014 breach. Due to that, the event "was not properly investigated and analyzed at the time," the report said.

Yahoo's general counsel, Ronald Bell, resigned March 1 without severance pay--ostensibly for his department's slow response to the security issues. Alex Stamos, Yahoo's chief security officer at the time of the 2014 breach, left the company a year later.

More than 40 lawsuits also have been filed seeking damages for the breaches. If Yahoo's sale to Verizon is completed as expected later this year, a new corporate entity called Altaba Inc. will be responsible for paying those legal claims.

In a post on Yahoo's Tumblr blog service, Mayer said she didn't know about the scope of the breaches until September and then tried to set things right--but it apparently was too late.

"However, I am the CEO of the company and since this incident happened during my tenure, I have agreed to forgo my annual bonus and my annual equity grant," Mayer wrote.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...