It's Unclear If Marissa Mayer's Most Important Lieutenant Is Going Or Staying

Michael Barrett and Marissa Mayer

During his short run as interim CEO of Yahoo, Ross Levinsohn made a huge, widely-lauded hire. 

He poached, from Google, Michael Barrett, to be Yahoo’s chief revenue officer. Barrett is the former CEO of Google acquisition AdMeld, an ad tech firm.

Levinsohn paid a lot of money to lure Barrett – probably about $10 million per year.

Then Levinsohn didn’t get the full time job at Yahoo, and Google superstar Marissa Mayer did.

Ever since then, Barrett’s future at Yahoo has been incredibly murky.

A couple weeks ago, AdAge reported that Barrett was in it for the long haul at Yahoo. And then a Yahoo source told us the same. This source said Barrett is getting paid too much to quit, and that he is in the perfect job for someone in his career: running revenue at one of the biggest companies on the Internet.

We bought it. After all, Marissa Mayer has a big blind spot in ad sales, and we can imagine her deciding to lean on a widely respected ad sales executive for help, even if she inherited him.

But then, over the weekend, All Things D’s Kara Swisher muddied the water all over again. She reported that Barrett is actively seeking a huge exit package from Yahoo, and that Mayer is refusing to pay up. Swisher says Mayer has already started interviewing Barrett’s potential replacements.  In this view, Barrett merely told AdAge’s Jason Del Rey that he is sticking at Yahoo to “fend off talk.”

So what the heck, right?

The conventional wisdom is that, within the next year or so, Barrett will leave Yahoo.

That’s because when new CEOs take over companies in need of a turnaround, they almost always eventually replace the entire senior leadership team that was their before their arrival.

Sometimes, this can take a while. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong didn’t part with Bill Wilson, the media boss he inherited, until well after a year into his tenure.

So we’ve always assumed that Barrett was not going to be a Yahoo too long.

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