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Mayer set to garner more from sale to Verizon than AOL's Armstrong — who stayed on after his deal

John Shinal

Word that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer could pocket up to $186 million from the company's sale to Verizon Communications (VZ) cements the charmed nature of her five-year tenure at the company's helm.

That amount eclipses slightly the $179 million that AOL's Tim Armstrong garnered when Verizon bought his company in 2015.

Unlike Armstrong, who has continued to lead AOL after that transaction, Mayer will have no executive role in the company after the Verizon-Yahoo deal is finalized.

Getting paid more for leaving than Armstrong got for staying is just the latest example of how well Mayer has done since she took over Yahoo -- even though her multiple turnaround attempts failed to jumpstart sales growth. Revenue from 2011 to 2016 only increased 4 percent.

Even two high-profile data breaches that occurred under Mayer's watch weren't enough to scuttle the deal.

Still, Mayer's tenure in the corner office coincided with substantial returns for shareholders. The company's share price almost tripled from when she took over in July 2012.

The rally had nothing to do with improvements in Yahoo's online advertising business, which has continued to lose ground to rivals Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB).

Rather, the rise in Yahoo's market cap is the result of the surging value of its stake in Alibaba (BABA), the Chinese Internet giant whose 2014 IPO was the biggest tech stock offering in U.S. history.

Yahoo's investment in Alibaba was orchestrated in 2005 by co-founder and former CEO Jerry Yang. Its stake in Yahoo Japan was also acquired long before Mayer joined.

The Asian assets are not included in the $4.5 billion Verizon deal and will continue to live in a separate post-deal entity called Altaba. Verizon is buying the core business that Mayer was never able to rebuild.

Yahoo's five-year run

In the end, Mayer leaves Yahoo with a market cap of just over $46 billion -- the combined value of what Verizon is buying and Altbaba, less the tax liabilities associated with the various transactions.

That's slightly higher than the $45 billion offer that Yang and the company's board had rejected from Microsoft (MSFT) back in 2008.

Mayer was just the last of a string of Yahoo CEOs who couldn't revive the former internet powerhouse. But the degree to which she personally profited made her time at Yahoo charmed indeed.

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