Ross Levinsohn Walks Out Yahoo’s Door With More Than $5.3 Million In Cash And Equity

Passed over for the top job in favor of former Googler Marissa Mayer, former interim CEO Ross Levinsohn is departing Yahoo, as first reported by AllThingsD and confined by a Yahoo spokesperson.

Levinsohn had headed up the company’s key Americas unit, including overseeing advertising sales.

According to the terms of the separation agreement and 8K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Levinsohn will receive 67,000 shares of stock currently valued at $1.1 million, along with 250,000 stock options at a per share exercise price of $15.80, the closing per share price on July 26.

The stock closed today at $15.98, meaning he could stand to earn $45,000 if the stock price doesn’t dive in the next day — even more if it goes up during his possible exercise period of 90 days. Additionally, Yahoo agreed to 12 months of accelerated vesting of Levinsohn’s past equity awards (his contract previously called for 6 months of accelerated vesting), likely giving him even more money in his pocket as he departs.

He also gets cash severance equal to his base salary ($1.12 million in 2011) and his target annual bonus (around $3 million in 2011), as well as an unspecified portion of his targeted annual bonus for next year. Yahoo will also kick in the premiums for Levinsohn’s COBRA coverage for up to a year. All in all, the equity and cash add up to more than $5.3 million.

AllThingsD published a memo from Mayer:

Ross has been an important and powerful contributor at Yahoo since he joined in 2010. During May and June, Ross stepped into an incredibly tough role as interim CEO and did a terffic job — he really helped keep the company moving, closed important deals, and assembled a very talented team. I am very grateful to Ross for his leadership and work throughout his tenure at Yahoo. His contributions will be missed.

Levinsohn was in a tough political situation, having served as CEO and being seen as a contender for the role, only to be demoted when Mayer’s hiring was announced. Could a potential (and once de facto) CEO set aside his ego and take a back seat to the new head of the company? Would she even want him around?

Apparently, the answer to at least one of the above questions is “no,” so Levinsohn will pursue other opportunities, though AllThingsD is reporting that he hasn’t got another gig lined up yet. Still, he has been talked about as a candidate for a variety of roles at media companies and shouldn’t be looking for long.

Levinsohn was hired at Yahoo in 2010, when Carol Bartz was CEO. He came to prominence in the industry as the head of Fox Interactive Media (FIM), where he oversaw the colossal acquisition of MySpace and an ad distribution deal with Google for the property. He’s also worked in private equity in the digital media space.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Yahoo: Business Issues


About The Author: is executive features editor of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported on, written about and worked in digital media and marketing for more than 10 years. She is a previous managing editor of ClickZ and has worked on the other side of digital publishing, helping independent publishers monetize their sites in her work at Federated Media Publishing.

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