Yahoo execs' big pay day from a Microsoft deal

February 8, 2008: 2:31 PM ET

By Michal Lev-Ram

The Microhoo deal is still far from over, but you can bet every one of Yahoo's 14,300 employees are wondering what the $44.6 billion bid from Microsoft means for them.

The fate of Yahoo's top executives -- co-founders Jerry Yang and David Filo and president Susan Decker -- remains unclear. Will Microsoft clean house or try to retain some of Yahoo's (YHOO) higher-ups? More importantly, will top Yahoos even want a corner office in Redmond?

Whatever happens under a new regime, Yang, Filo and Decker will be provided for financially, to say the least. Based on Microsoft's (MSFT) bid to buy Yahoo at $31 a share (a 62 percent premium to the share price when the offer was made last Friday), here's how the three head Yahoos would fare, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar and Securities and Exchange Commission filings:

  • Jerry Yang: Yahoo's CEO indirectly owns 43,489,864 shares held in trust and 9,314,390 held in a family partnership of Yahoo. If these shares were purchased for $31, they would have a combined value of over $1.6 billion. This value doesn't include the 6,310 shares held by Yang's wife, for which he disclaims beneficial ownership.
  • David Filo: Filo stays out of the limelight but directly owns close to 80,000,000 shares of Yahoo. At the proposed $31 price per share, they would be worth more than $2.4 billion.
  • Susan Decker: Decker holds an estimated 634,676 shares directly and 6,161,667 options. Under Microsoft's valuation, they'd have a value of over $54 million.

But don't expect any "golden parachutes" for these Yahoos -- according to research firm Equilar and company records, there's no evidence Yahoo would give its execs cash severance benefits in the event of a take-over. However, the company does have an agreement with Decker stating that some of her previously vested options will remain exercisable for an additional three years if she leaves the company.

As for majority of Yahoo's employees -- the non-billionaires -- it's not clear how they would fare under a Microsoft acquisition. The struggling search engine (and I mean Yahoo) had already said it would lay off 1,000, or 7 percent, of its workforce sometime this month. It's likely Microsoft would make more cuts should the deal go through.

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About This Author
Michal Lev-Ram
Michal Lev-Ram
Writer, Fortune

Based in Silicon Valley, Michal Lev-Ram covers enterprise and mobile technologies for FORTUNE. Prior to joining FORTUNE, she wrote for CNNMoney, Fast Company, Popular Science and other business and technology publications. She was also a staff writer at Business 2.0 and holds a B.A. in journalism from San Francisco State University.

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