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Subpar Semel Slides Out With $500 Million

Ousted Yahoo! (YHOO) chief executive Terry Semel pocketed more than half a billion dollars before he was removed from office on Monday.

He made the money from shares and option gains over his six years at the helm. His personal profit works out at a stunning $282,000 a day.

Two hundred and eighty-two thousand dollars. Every day. Including Sunday.

How's your salary feel now?

If Yahoo! were willing to pay Semel that much for running the company not very well, imagine what he might have earned for doing a really good job!

Semel, who will remain "non-executive chairman" at the Internet giant while co-founder Jerry Yang takes the helm, was removed as CEO after a massive shareholder revolt at this month's annual meeting.

Shareholders finally lost patience with the 64-year old executive after Yahoo! spent years falling behind fresher upstarts like Google (GOOG).

They were particularly incensed at Semel's hefty annual compensation. But no one we know has gone back through all the public filings and counted it all up.

Until now.

In total, while Semel was running Yahoo!, he quietly made $448 million by cashing out shares and options. After reviewing the public filings themselves, company officials confirmed the numbers.

It said Tuesday that he realized $25.4 million in 2003, $230 million in 2004, $173.6 million in 2005 and $19.0 million in 2006.

On top of that, Yahoo!'s latest proxy shows, Semel is left with shares and options worth another $80 million even at today's lackluster stock price.

Total: $528 million.

Yahoo! valiantly sought to defend the extraordinary sum. "Under Terry Semel's leadership, Yahoo! staked out a strong competitive position as an Internet leader," the company said in a statement. "During his tenure Terry helped Yahoo! increase its revenues nearly nine-fold from $717 million in 2001 to $6.4 billion in 2006; boost operating income from a loss in 2001 to nearly $1 billion last year; and create more than $30 billion in shareholder value."

To watch Alix Steel's video take of this column, click here .

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