For a normal person, a $1 million base salary plus potential to make $100 million over the next five years would be a lot of money, but for Marissa Mayer, who already made her fortune as one of the first 20 employees of Google, it's just some more money. To lure Mayer away from shiny Google to tarnished Yahoo, Yahoo had to offer her that lavish compensation, people say. Even if the company's stock sinks she will get the $1 million each year and then some; if the stock stays level she can still rake in another $45 million over the next five years. But it was a financial security Mayer presumably doesn't need. Mayer has already been through the Google IPO, and while there are no numbers on how much stock she received in Google's SEC filings — because she wasn't a top executive at the company, another widely cited reason for why she moved to Yahoo — but she is presumed to already be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Reuters estimates her net worth at around $300 million but doesn't say where it got that information. Business Insider uses the same number. Even without an exact number, from her lavish lifestyle we can infer she has a lot. She lives in a $5 million penthouse atop the San Francisco Four Seasons Hotel, according to the New York Times's Laura M. Holson.When she's not there, she weekends in Vail. She wears Vogue-approved clothing. The "turquoise-fringed Manolos and an Alberta Ferretti dress 'in every color of the rainbow,'" the Vogue profile mentions cost in the multiple thousands range, alone. She once paid $60,000 at a charity auction to eat with designer Oscar de La Renta. She likes and can afford the finer things.
Yet, to get her to hop on the sinking ship, Yahoo had make an offer that would get the attention of a someone who is already really, really rich. Unlike many other tech CEOs, like Mark Zuckerberg and HP's Meg Whitman who take $1 pay checks, Mayer gets $1 million just for showing up. The move isolates Mayer from Yahoo's previous failings. If she turns the company around, she stands to make a lot. If not, she still gets what you and I would consider a lot. That, said, she still has incentives to stay the full five years and push Yahoo's stock up -- it only gets bigger. With that in mind, after yesterdays reported 4 percent drop in profit and 1 percent dip in revenue, reading her first memo via AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, we get a sense that Mayer wants to keep the troops moving as she figures things out. Here's the key paragraph:
The company has been through a lot of change in the past few months, leaving many open questions around strategy and how to move forward. I am sensitive to this. While I have some ideas, I need to develop a more informed perspective before making strategy or direction changes. In the meantime, please do not stop. You are doing important work. Please don’t stop. If you have questions or concerns about whether to continue or not, please ask. However, with the exception of a few things that might heavily constrain us in the future, the answer is most likely: “Yes, keep moving.”
Even if the Yahoos "keep moving" in the wrong direction, Mayer can still afford those Manolos. Then again, if pushes things in the right direction, she can get even more Manolos.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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