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The strife and times of Marissa Mayer

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has fired her second in command, Henrique de Castro, just 15 months after she poached him from Google. De Castro’s termination is effective immediately, although he will walk away with a severance package of approximately $40 million.

Mayer announced the COO’s departure in an internal memo: “The beginning of a new year always provides time for reflection. As we enter 2014, I couldn’t be more proud of what Yahoo accomplished in 2013 or more optimistic about what we’ll accomplish in 2014. During my own reflection, I made the difficult decision that our COO, Henrique de Castro, should leave the company.”

Says BGC analyst Colin Gillis: “This was one of her key hires and he is already gone… It doesn’t look good.” It remains to be seen whether or not Mayer will face a backlash from Yahoo shareholders over this rather costly blip. This isn’t the first time Mayer’s working relationships have come under the spotlight; she reportedly “locked horns” with several team members during her time at Google and ruffled feathers when she assumed the mantle of CEO at Yahoo.

Reading headlines about Marissa Mayer always puts me in mind of pop star Taylor Swift. Stay with me; both appear in the news a disproportionate amount of the time because of relationship difficulties (personal in Taylor’s case, professional in Mayer’s). Controversy sells newspapers and drives web traffic, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that we’re not always reading about the things that are going well in these ladies’ lives.

Author Phil Simon outlines another potential cause for the media’s scrutiny of Mayer’s conduct in his Huffington Post piece ‘The Controversial Case of Marissa Mayer’; “Does it seem that we only hear things about her that are, well, less than flattering? And why is that the case? Is it because of her relatively distinct position… there just aren’t too many prominent women running technology companies today. Is that why we only seem to hear the criticisms?”

Perhaps Mayer could recoup the loss Yahoo made by paying off De Castro, and curry a little more public support, by writing a hit single about the whole debacle.

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