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Yahoo goes all in with a tech future as former CEO Ross Levinsohn departs

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The Yahoo logo is displayed in front of the Yahoo headqarters on July 17, 2012 in Sunnyvale, California. Former interim CEO Ross Levinsohn has left the troubled Web giant.

When Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer from Google to be its new CEO, declining for the second time to name Ross Levinsohn to the top job, there were two pretty clear signals. First, that Yahoo was going to become a technology company. Second, that Levinsohn — the interim CEO after the Scott Thompson debacle and seen by many as the leading candidate prior to Mayer — was probably headed for the exit.

Well, Levinsohn has now left. By my math, according the SEC filing, he's getting about $5 million in Yahoo stock, on top of what was getting for being CEO. It's unclear whether he ever received what Thompson was getting: $1 million per year, plus a $2-million bonus. Back in 2010, when he was hired as a Yahoo executive VP, his compensation was $700,000 plus a $500,000 bonus.

Mayer, by comparison, has a pay package that is estimated at $59 million.

Still, Levinsohn did okay for two years' work.

Levinsohn, with a background in entertainment and advertising, represented the idea of Yahoo-as-media-company, an idea that's now been overturned by the arrival of Mayer, an engineer who led teams that developed numerous Google products. She brings engineering cred to Sunnyvale (she went to Stanford and was Google's twentieth employee) and, after she took the Yahoo job, Business Insider reported than she had told the board that Yahoo needed to fix its "engineer-to-everyone-else ratio."

Saying that and transforming Yahoo into an engineering-driven company are of course two different things. But the other side of the argument, in the executive suite, has been eliminated. So for better or worse, Yahoo will now march toward its future as a tech company, with Mayer squarely in charge.

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