Altaba, what will be left of Yahoo, filed documents with the SEC regarding Marissa Mayer's replacement, Thomas McInerney. McInerney's salary is $2,000,000 a year, which is twice what Mayer's current salary is.

Same job, double the salary, fair? Unfair?

While I don't put Perez Hilton in the same category as Newsweek or Fortune, the sentiment is running all over the internet. But different salaries don't mean illegal discrimination. They mean different people. Replacing one CEO with another isn't like replacing one cashier with another. They are substantially different people with substantially different backgrounds and taking on substantially different jobs. Which means the salaries shouldn't be the same.

Is McInerney Worth Twice as Much as Mayer?

Nobody asked me to interview or evaluate either person, so I don't have any secret information on knowledge, skills, or abilities, but here are things that we do know.

Mayer had far less experience than McInerney has: McInerney is 52, compared to Mayer's 41. 11 years is a lot more experience and Mayer was only 36 when she took the job. This isn't to say we should pay people based on their age, but it does point out that people with more experience are generally worth more to the company.

McInerney will be running a different company: Altaba will be an investment company, which is vastly different than what Yahoo! is (or was). Some people say that means McInerney should earn less than Mayer because the company she ran had more arms and was more complex. Perhaps. But the point is, they are two entirely different companies with entirely different needs.

Mayer was in the job for five years and failed (maybe): Mayer's tenure is shaky at best. USA Today's Marco della Cava and Elizabeth Weise wrote:

Mayer was in many ways brought in to right a sinking ship. She was Yahoo's seventh CEO, a list that included former Warner Bros. executive Terry Semel "who couldn't even be bothered to move to Silicon Valley from Los Angeles for the job," says Paul Saffo, longtime tech-world observer and forecaster.

"The company was in such chaotic shape (when Mayer joined) that you would have needed someone with the temperament and intuition of Steve Jobs to even have a chance at a turnaround," Saffo says. "Her biggest mistake might have been taking the job. It was a suicide mission."

But della Cava and Weise also point out that she did a great job with the stock price:

On the one hand, under Mayer, 41, Yahoo stock soared 180% since she was named CEO in 2012, from $15 to $42.

Salary has little to do with compensation as a CEO: Mayer took home around $150,000,000 over her 5-year tenure at Yahoo! That's a bit more than her $1 million salary. Like Mayer, McInerney will receive most of his pay through means other than the twice-monthly paycheck. CEO pay is complicated and is most often dependent on company performance. So, while McInerney gets a bigger monthly paycheck, we won't know his overall compensation until after we see how Altaba does.

Overall, there's no evidence that his paycheck has anything to do with his gender. He negotiated what he thought was fair. Mayer negotiated what she thought was fair. Salaries at this level in publicly traded companies are available. Mayer didn't go in blind, and she didn't come out poor. Neither did McInerney. It's not illegal discrimination it's genuine differences.

Published on: Mar 16, 2017