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Judging De Castro and Marissa Mayer

Stocks in this article: YHOO AAPL AOL

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Following Marissa Mayer's keynote at the CES show earlier this month, the Yahoo! (YHOO) CEO was basking in positive press and tweet coverage.

Mayer's keynote generated more tweets per second than any other person, or part, of the entire show.

That's not really a surprise. Mayer has been a magnet for attention since she arrived at Yahoo!. This was just the latest example of her basking in the favorable press light.

Yet, shortly after the keynote, Yahoo! announced that its COO Henrique De Castro was leaving after 13 months on the job. Later, Mayer released a note to employees saying she'd thought about it over the holidays and decided to fire De Castro. What's more, within 24 hours of this, many reports surfaced that De Castro would get to keep a large chunk of the compensation package he negotiated for when he came over from Google to take the job a year ago. Some estimated this would amount to $109 million.

Anytime there's a story in the news about some executive -- especially a flunky executive -- getting to walk out the door with a big bag of money, we hear an outcry of protests.

Just this past week, we heard a lot of bellyaching about Jamie Dimon getting a big pay raise from his board at JPMorgan (JPM). There was also another story about how the top 85 people in the world have as much money as the bottom 50% of the world (3.5 billion people).

De Castro was just another guy in this meme of populist outrage against fat cats getting something for nothing, especially while the guy on the street busts his hump trying to put food on the table.

But, the vitriol against De Castro and Mayer was also something else. You can sense a lot of people want Marissa Mayer to go through a little schadenfreude, a little come-uppance.

I get it. This is America. We love to build people up as heroes, then tear them down, and then build them right back up again.

Marissa has gone through the "honeymoon phase" -- as many have taken to calling it -- for 2.5 years now since she was hired at Yahoo! from Google (GOOG). These same people like to point out that the increase in Yahoo!'s stock price is not due to her, but to Alibaba. And, if I've seen these kinds of blog posts once, I've seen them a thousand times, where they ominously end the post saying "the magic can't last forever."

If Mayer -- and Yahoo! -- ever fell flat on their faces, there would be hundreds of talking heads and tweeters coming out of the woodwork to say, "I told you so!" and "I knew it all along!"

This De Castro was their first opportunity to say "Gotcha!" And they made hay with it!

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