Marissa Mayer was brought in as a turnaround CEO for Yahoo in 2012. Having failed since then to lead Yahoo in a successful new path or to deliver much by way of benefit to Yahoo employees, customers or stockholders, Mayer is on her way out as what’s left of the company is being sold to Verizon.
For her efforts over the past five years, she earned 150 million in total compensation, including stock awards, and is up for a 23M severance package.
I’m not saying that trying to turn around a struggling tech company isn’t hard or isn’t worth the effort, or that the CEO shouldn’t be rewarded for giving it a go. And Mayer joins a long line of mostly male CEO’s who’ve also screwed the pooch and gone away rich. But we’re in a time of a national re-thinking of the balance between government safety nets and unbridled market forces — Paul Ryan and the Republican party being strongly on the side of the latter. Giving failed CEO’s huge compensation and severance is the work of market forces at their best. I’d argue that ordinary souls who lose their jobs because the work moves elsewhere, or because their skills are out of date and no longer useful, or even because they’ve failed in the responsibilities entrusted to them, deserve some cushion until they’re able to get hired again. It doesn’t have to be millions, but the equation, it seems to me, shouldn’t be millions v. zero.