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Outgoing Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer will likely get $186m payout

The price of failure? About $186m if you are Marissa Mayer, outgoing chief executive of troubled internet giant Yahoo.

Yahoo is currently being sold to Verizon, the US’s largest telecom company, for $4.49bn. Shareholders will be asked to approve the deal on 8 June and a yes vote will most likely trigger a huge payout for Mayer.

Yahoo’s CEO holds stock, stock options and restricted stock units worth a total of $186m, according to documents sent to shareholders about the Verizon deal. The payoff comes on top of roughly $200m that Mayer has already received in salary and bonuses over her five year tenure.

Mayer did lose her 2017 annual bonus after Yahoo’s bungled security exposed the personal information of more than one billion of its users, and threatened the Verizon deal. The cash bonus was worth about $2m.

That decision came after Yahoo’s security team discovered that hackers had breached Yahoo’s systems in 2014 and that executives had “failed to act sufficiently”. Yahoo only notified 26 account holders of the breach at that time. Last September the company announced 500 million accounts had been compromised. In December Yahoo announced a further billion accounts had been hacked – the largest data breach in history.

When Mayer, one of Google’s earliest recruits, joined Yahoo in 2012 her hiring was deemed a major coup for the already struggling internet pioneer. But she presided over a series of ill-timed purchases, as well as major security breaches, that have left Yahoo in a worse state than when she joined. In 2008 Microsoft offered $44.6bn for Yahoo, close to ten times Verizon’s offer.

Mayer’s plan was initially to expand Yahoo’s content business. She paid $1.1bn for blogging platform Tumblr in 2013, expanded into TV and hired big name US journalists including former CBS news anchor Katie Couric. But advertisers and shareholders have remained unimpressed.