When Yahoo officially shared the news Monday morning Verizon had agreed to buy it for $4.8 billion, the next question for many was this one: What will happen to Yahoo's embattled chief executive, Marissa Mayer, who struggled for four years to turn around the aging Internet pioneer?
Mayer said in a letter to employees that she wasn't planning to go anywhere. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay. I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter." How that will actually play out is unclear. Verizon executive vice president Marni Walden told CNBC Monday morning that since Yahoo was acquired through an auction process, the telecommunications giant had not yet defined leadership roles and would "come back when we're ready to talk about the leaders in the seat."
At least one media report said Mayer's plans may be temporary: Longtime Yahoo chronicler Kara Swisher of Recode cited sources saying Mayer "would likely go after the deal is officially struck in six to nine months." A request for comment emailed to Yahoo was not immediately returned.
One thing's for sure: Mayer, a star recruit from Google when she took the helm in 2012, has been paid handsomely during her tenure at the company. And the number will only grow if she indeed eventually leaves after Yahoo changes hands. A new analysis by Equilar, the executive compensation research firm, attempted to tally up her paydays. It finds that Mayer could stand to receive total compensation valued at $218.9 million from her Yahoo tenure if she ultimately receives a severance payment as a result of the change in ownership.
In an email, Equilar spokesperson Dan Marcec broke the numbers down this way: Mayer has earned $114.7 million in "realized pay" during her tenure as CEO between 2012 and 2015. That figure is made up of cash received, shares she owns, and gains on stock options that have been exercised. In addition, she has options to buy more stock that are valued at $43.4 million, as well as nearly $4 million in stock she has earned this year, Equilar reports.
Those three figures bring the tally to $162.1 million. But if she is exits the company within a year of a "change-in-control," according to company documents, she'd also be in line for one very golden parachute. Equilar says the current value of what Mayer would be eligible to receive in severance stands at $56.8 million.
That big potential payment has been the subject of much controversy, especially given Yahoo's lackluster performance under Mayer's tenure. At one time, the figure was said to potentially reach $158 million. But as the value of shares dropped and various stock grants vested, the tally of Mayer's golden parachute fell, too; in April, company documents pinned the number at $55 million. Such "golden parachutes" often appear large because boards let outstanding options or equity grants to be immediately vested, or "accelerated," when ownership changes, in order to keep CEOs from worrying about their own pay, rather than investors.
To put those numbers into perspective, consider a few comparisons. If Mayer does eventually receive the change in control payment, it would rank among the 15 largest such payouts since 2005, according to an analysis by Equilar done early last year. It's also not far from the $58 million in severance given to Henrique de Castro, who was brought in to Yahoo by Mayer as chief operating officer but left after just 15 months.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, the New Yorker's web editor Nicholas Thompson noticed another number that was similar to the potential total pay number Equilar calculated for Mayer's tenure, if she gets the severance payout: It's the same as the largest Mega Millions jackpot number paid out in May.
Marissa Mayer got $218m at Yahoo, which is exactly the sum of the year's biggest Mega Millions jackpot.
— Nicholas Thompson (@nxthompson) July 25, 2016